Pakistan has always been an ardent supporter of regional peace and collaborative security. As a torchbearer of this unflinching resolve, Pakistan Navy is spearheading numerous initiatives, and conducting series of multinational maritime exercise AMAN under the motto ‘Together for Peace’ is one of the quantum leaps towards the fulfillment of this shared vision along with global partners. Pakistan Navy has been hosting the multinational maritime exercise biennially since 2007. With Exercise AMAN Pakistan Navy seeks to enhance interoperability between regional and extra-regional navies as a means of promoting peace and stability in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and beyond. This exercise also provides a unique training opportunity to develop and practice response tactics which helps participants foster and sustain the mutual relationships that are conducive to ensuring the safe and secured sea lanes in the world’s oceans.
Exercise AMAN-2019, the 6th in series, was conducted by Pakistan Navy from February 8-12, 2019 in Karachi where navies from 46 countries participated along with their ships, aircraft, SOF/EOD/marines teams and observers. The exercise was conducted in two phases; the harbour phase spanned February 08-10 and the sea phase, February 11–12, 2019. The harbour phase comprised flag hoisting ceremony, International Maritime Conference, seminars, table talks, cross ships visits, call ons, international band display and maritime counter terrorism demonstration. Whereas, the sea phase included practical execution of operational plans and activities finalized during harbour phase. The exercise was planned with focused objectives, which include:
• Project positive image of Pakistan as a country contributing towards regional peace and stability.
• Consolidate Pakistan Navy’s position in the regional maritime arena.
• Enhance interoperability with regional and extra-regional navies thereby acting as a bridge between the regions.
• Display of united resolve against terrorism and crimes in maritime domain.
President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Prime Minister, Minister for Defence, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Naval Staff issued special messages on the occasion.
Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi expressed in his message that threats to maritime security increasingly emanate from contemporary asymmetric challenges that have deeply impacted the maritime environment. There is a strong realization that given the vast expanse of oceans and an array of maritime threats, preserving maritime order in the global commons necessitates collaborative efforts as a matter of compulsion rather than choice. Pakistan is a firm believer in collaborative maritime security and has taken a number of initiatives in this regard. Regional Maritime Security Patrols (RMSP) is one such initiative of Pakistan Navy to fulfill international obligations besides protection of own national interests in the IOR. RMSP is focused on establishing maritime patrols along the vital choke points and important waterways of IOR to ensure good order at sea.
CNS further added that Pakistan Navy has also been a forerunner in the quest for collaborative security. AMAN series of exercises are effectively built on this concept. It is a matter of pride to see flags and ensigns of over forty-six navies fluttering together as an embodiment of the exercise’s motto, ‘Together for Peace’. While expressing satisfaction, CNS said, “I am certain that the camaraderie generated herein will continue to grow and bring us even closer to the cherished goal of realizing regional peace and shared prosperity”.
As a curtain raiser, Pakistan Navy organized a media brief on February 7, 2019 at Pakistan Navy Fleet Headquarters, Karachi to apprise the media regarding contours and objectives of Exercise AMAN-2019. Commander Pakistan Fleet, Vice Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi presided over the media brief, and responded to questions of media after the brief.
AMAN-2019 formally commenced on February 8, 2019 at Pakistan Navy Dockyard with a colorful flag hoisting ceremony. Ships of the participating navies, observers, foreign diplomats and a large number of Pakistan Navy officers and men attended the event. Commander Pakistan Fleet, Vice Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi graced the occasion as chief guest whereas Chief of Romanian Naval Forces, Vice Admiral Alexandru Mirsu (PhD) and Commander Zimbabwe National Army, Lt Gen Edzai Absalom Tafadzwa Chanyuka Chimonyo attended the ceremony as guests of honour. The message of CNS was also read out during the ceremony.
A flag hoisting ceremony of participating Special Operations Forces (SOF) was also held separately at Pakistan Navy Unit PNS IQBAL, which was graced by Commander Coast, Vice Admiral Muhammad Fayyaz Gilani as chief guest.
During the harbour phase, in tandem, three-day International Maritime Conference was also conducted at Karachi. It was organized on the theme of 'Global Geopolitics in Transition: Rethinking Maritime Dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region', under the auspices of National Institute of Maritime Affairs, in line with the following objectives:
• Examine dynamics of global geopolitics and its implications for IOR.
• Share knowledge and perspectives on socio-economic strategies in the IOR.
• Suggest collaborative frameworks for pursuance of shared goals and responsibilities amongst maritime stakeholders.
• Highlight measures that can lead to peaceful coexistence, prosperity and secure maritime environment in the region.
The President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi graced the opening session as chief guest. The CNS was also present on the occasion. While addressing the audience, the chief guest underscored the importance of blue economy and effective use of ocean resources as the key to Pakistan's future. He stated that Indian Ocean acts as a strategic gateway for food, maritime transportation and energy supplies to the world and the presence of major powers in IOR signifies its importance under a complex security environment. Appreciating the role of Pakistan Navy, the President said that the collaborative maritime security engagements with regional and extra-regional navies in the form of AMAN-2019 signify Pakistan's resolve and commitment towards global peace and prosperity. In his opening remarks, the CNS highlighted the significant role being played by Pakistan Navy in the sustenance of peace and stability in IOR. He added that Pakistan has always been an ardent supporter of maritime cooperation, and being the pioneer partner of Combined Maritime Forces’ (CMF) task forces CTF-150 and CTF-151, Pakistan has been the largest regional contributor to these constructs in terms of both men and material. On the national front, Pakistan has commenced RMSPs which aims to maintain security posture in critical sea areas and choke points in the Indian Ocean.
The inaugural session was followed by two academic sessions on the first day in which various international and national scholars along with academia from Canada, China, Russia, Iran, Maldives, and Sri Lanka presented their papers. Maritime security challenges and opportunities remained in focus on the second day of the conference. The first and second sessions of second day were graced by Vice Admiral Kaleem Shaukat, Vice Chief of Naval Staff and Dr. Masuma Hasan, Chairman Pakistan Institute of International Affairs as chief guests respectively. Whereas, Lt General Afgan Taghiyev Veli, Chief of Coast Guard State Border Service Azerbaijan and Vice Admiral Alexandru Mirsu (PhD), Chief of Romanian Naval Forces attended as guests of honour.
During the first session of the second day, Admiral William Owens, Former Vice Chairman United States Joint Chiefs of Staff stressed upon the significance of global navies for facilitating peace and cooperation among nations. Senior Captain Shao Shuguang, Commander Task Force, PLA (N) China expressed his desire to keep the Indian Ocean stable in the wake of non-traditional security threats at sea where interests of multiple stakeholders converge. The speaker was followed by Vice Admiral Asif Khaliq, Commander Karachi who highlighted the contemporary maritime security challenges from Pakistan’s perspective. Last speaker of the first session was Rear Admiral Mehmet Cen Okyay, Commander of Turkish North Task Group who added that freedom of high seas is the core principle for maritime commerce and shipping.
The following session of the second day was centered on the theme of maritime dynamics of the Western Indian Ocean Region. Eminent speakers included Dr. Christian Bueger, Professor at University of Copenhagen, Denmark who emphasized upon the need for security architecture in the Western Indian Ocean for a sustainable and stable future. Dr. Syed Riffat Hussain, National University of Science and Technology (NUST) added that the scope of seaborne trade has expanded manifolds due to combined effects of globalization and technological changes. The distinguished scholar Bhagya Senaratne, Lecturer at General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, Sri Lanka stated that Indian Ocean is one of the busiest shipping routes of the globe that is presently being confounded by distrust.
In the last session of the second day of the conference, Dr. Nazery Khalid, Head of Group Corporate, Boustead Heavy Industries, Malaysia was the keynote speaker who explicated opportunities for development of a blue economy in the Indian Ocean littorals. He was followed by Vice Admiral (R) lftikhar Ahmed who was of the opinion that CPEC will make Gwadar an unparalleled hub of economic activities. Dr. Aneel Salman, Head of Business Management Program, COMSATS, presented a paper on sustainable oceanic economic growth strategy for Pakistan. Last speaker of the session was Mr. Irfan Rahim, Director Special Projects at International Maritime Organization (IMO). He emphatically appreciated Pakistan’s Navy efforts in ensuring maritime security of global common in the IOR. He not only highlighted Pakistan Navy’s maritime security initiative of establishing RMSP but also appreciated its contribution in fighting transnational crime at sea.
The concluding session of IMC was held on February 11, 2019. Federal Minister for Defence, was the Chief Guest at the event. While addressing the audience, the Defence Minister, Mr. Pervez Khattak, stated that the current maritime threats and emerging geo-strategic situation is posing new challenges and risks to the stakeholders in the region. The situation will provide constructive dialogue and develop collective mechanism. In the context of CPEC, he added that amongst the recent maritime development in our region, CPEC is rightfully considered a game changer, not only for Pakistan but for economic well-being and prosperity of the entire region. With the progress of CPEC and Gwadar Port, maritime activities would increase manifold, especially in the Western Indian Ocean. The responsibilities of Pakistan Navy would also increase for maintaining a secure maritime environment for smooth flow of sea trade.
The rise of terrorism and instability at global level has changed the nature of how nations engage both friends and foes. Special forces play a unique role that include tracking terrorist cells and leaders, disrupting insurgent campaigns and building relationships with international partners for ensuring peace and stability. Accordingly, during the harbour phase of AMAN-2019, Special Operations Forces (SOF) of Pakistan Navy presented an impressive maritime counter terrorism demonstration at PNS QASIM, Karachi. Mr. Imran Ismail, Governor Sindh graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. The counter terrorism demonstration was a fine display of strength and specialized skills by SOF of Pakistan Navy to counter acts of maritime terrorism, refine special operating procedures, exchange of professional expertise and to enhance interoperability with participating SOF teams. The special demonstration of Pakistan Navy assets and their capabilities included Dolphin Maneuvers by Special Fast Boats (SFBs), Fast Boat Recovery, Advance Fire Arms Drills, Static Line Para Jumps, Clearance Ops, Insertion of SOF Teams and Marines Platoon to Hover Craft, Bomb Burst by Helos and Free Fall Jumps etc.
An international bands display was also presented by the bands of participating countries of AMAN-2019, aiming to connect the countries through cultural heritage as well. The military bands from Sri Lanka, Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Rangers played a mix of their traditional and military tunes. The enchanting melodies mesmerized the audience and were highly appreciated. A large number of personnel of the participating navies, observers, foreign diplomats and senior officials of Armed Forces of Pakistan witnessed the counter terrorism demonstration and bands display.
During the harbour phase, CNS was called upon by various visiting foreign dignitaries including Lt General Edzai Absalom Tafadzwa Chanyuka Chimonyo, Commander Zimbabwe National Army, Vice Admiral Alexandru Mirsu (PhD), Chief of Romanian Naval Forces, Lt General Afgan Taghiyev Veli, Chief of Coast Guard State Border Service Azerbaijan and Admiral (R) William A. Owens of USA in separate meetings.
The CNS visited ships of foreign navies participating in AMAN-2019 during the harbour phase. Upon his arrival onboard foreign visiting ships, he was warmly welcomed by senior officers/commanding officers of respective ships and was presented the Guard of Honour by smartly dressed out contingents.
The CNS visited ships of Australia (HMAS BALLARAT), China (PLA(N) KUNLUNSHAN), Italy (ITS MARGOTTINI), Malaysia (RMK KD MAHAWANGSA), Oman (RNOV AL-RAHMANI), Sri Lanka (SLNS SAYURALA), Turkey (TCG GOKCEADA) and UK (HMS DRAGON). During the visit onboard, CNS held interactions with senior officers/commanding officers, and was given briefings onboard ships. During discussions, the CNS highlighted that Pakistan Navy has always been a forerunner in the quest for collaborative security in this region of immense strategic importance and AMAN series of exercises are anchored on this concept. The Admiral further expressed that camaraderie generated herein will grow in future and shall bring us closer to the mutual goal of regional peace and prosperity. He also appreciated their participation in Exercise AMAN to fulfill common resolve of ‘Together for Peace’. Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi interacted with foreign media representatives during his visit and responded to their questions.
With the commencement of sea phase of Exercise AMAN-2019 on February 11, 2019, all participating foreign ships and Pakistan Navy’s designated ships proceeded to sea for rehearsals and preparations of operational exercises and maritime related drills. The pinnacle of Exercise AMAN-2019 was a day long sea activity on February 2019, which is known as International Fleet Review (IFR). Exercise AMAN-2019 came to its conclusion with these spectacular sea maneuvers and Fleet Review in the North Arabian Sea amid the joint resolve of 46 countries – ‘Together for Peace’.
President of Pakistan, Chief Minister Sindh, Defence Minister, Minister of Defence Production, CJCSC, three Services Chiefs, Ambassadors, Defence and Naval Attachés and a number of other guests witnessed spectacular sea maneuvers and International Fleet Review in the North Arabian Sea. Naval assets of participating countries included naval ships, helicopters, special forces elements and observers.
Upon arrival onboard PNS MOAWIN, the President was welcomed by Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi and senior naval officers. The Chief Guest witnessed different operational exercises including firing by ships on pre-deployed targets, underway replenishment between ships and maritime related maneuvers. The Fleet Review also featured an impressive fly past by participating aircraft and helicopters followed by men and cheership by participating ships. Thereafter, the participating ships formed up in traditional AMAN Formation to signify unity and harmony to ensure peace in the maritime domain.
The President congratulated Pakistan Navy for hosting the mega event and reaffirmed Pakistan's resolve for peace and security in the region. The President appreciated the participation of large number of like-minded nations and emphasized that AMAN-2019 will pave the way to make the region more peaceful and secure with combined efforts by all stakeholders. He reiterated the need for strategic cooperation to counter transnational maritime threats and encourage safety, security and stability in the region.
Maritime security challenges in the Indian Ocean have acquired international dimensions. Cooperation between international navies is, therefore, imperative to counter these emerging threats. Pakistan, being a major stakeholder in maritime security of IOR, is fully committed to ensuring freedom of navigation and lawful maritime order. Successful conduct of Exercise AMAN-2019 under the auspices of Pakistan Navy is a big stride in this direction. Participation of 46 countries from across the globe, with their warships, aircraft, helicopters, SOF, explosive ordnance teams, marines and observers in this exercise is a conspicuous manifestation of poise and confidence in Pakistan in joining hands for common resolve of peace, stability and order at sea. The exercise is a reflection of the strong ties between Pakistan and global navies and a display of converging strategic interests which will go a long way in promoting maritime security and stability in the region.
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