Since Exercise Aman began in 2007, participation has steadily risen from 28 countries the first year to 45 countries this year | Photo: Reuters Underscoring Islamabad’s insistence that Pakistan remains relevant and important to the global community, 45 countries are coming together for a combined naval exercise
being organised by the Pakistan Navy
in mid-February in the Arabian Sea.
“This year, the 7th edition of Exercise Aman is scheduled this month, where around 45 countries are participating with surface and air assets, special operations forces, marine teams and observers, and senior officers,” stated a Pakistan Navy
The exercise will kick off with a ‘harbour phase’ from February 11-14, followed by a ‘sea phase’ on February 15-16.
The participants will include navies of the US, China, Russia, the UK, Turkey, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, and several African countries. This will be the first time in a decade that the Russian Navy exercises alongside warships from North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries.
Since Exercise Aman began in 2007, participation has steadily risen from 28 countries the first year to 45 countries this year.
Briefing the media in Karachi, the Pakistan Fleet commander, Rear Admiral Naveed Ashraf, stated that the Pakistan Navy, which believes in ‘collaborative maritime security’, has been participating in counter piracy operations since 2004. It has also partnered foreign navies in ‘regional maritime security patrols’ since 2018.
Ashraf cited three reasons for Pakistan’s interest in safer and crime-free seas: “Firstly, our extraordinary dependence on the seas for trade; secondly, operationalisation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, and lastly, our strategic location astride the global energy highway.”
The Pakistan Navy, which has traditionally been treated by that country’s Army-dominated military establishment as relatively inconsequential, has begun coming into its own with warship purchases from China.
Last week, Pakistan’s Navy chief, Admiral M Amjad Khan Niazi, told China’s Global Times newspaper that the Pakistan Navy
had contracted with China Shipbuilding & Offshore International
Co. for eight Hangor-class submarines. Four will be built in China and the remaining four in Pakistan.
These will join five French Agosta submarines that the Pakistan Navy already operates.
In addition, Pakistan has contracted with China for four Type 054A/P frigates, the second of which was launched at a shipyard in China last week. These will join four F-22P Zulfiquar-class frigates that Pakistan has already bought from China.
In addition, Pakistan plans to induct another four frigates in collaboration with Turkey and another six guided missile frigates that it may build indigenously.