Sunday February 12, 2023
ISLAMABAD: China, together with host Pakistan and more than 50 participating countries, kicked off the AMAN-23 multinational maritime exercise in Karachi on Friday.A grand opening ceremony for the five-day AMAN-23 exercise was held on Friday morning at the Pakistan Navy Dockyard, in front of the PNS Taimur, a Type 054A/P guided missile frigate that China built for Pakistan. Honor guards raised the participating countries’ national flags, while balloons and pigeons representing peace were released into the skies.
The drills are expected to enhance the participants’ interoperability against instabilities and threats in the Indian Ocean region and safeguard vital international sea lines of communication and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Under the motto “Together for Peace”, this is the eighth edition of the AMAN exercises since 2007. It is divided into two phases: harbor and sea.
The harbor phase involves seminars, operational discussions, and professional demonstrations among other preparations, and the sea phase includes tactical maneuvers, anti-piracy, counterterrorism, search and rescue, live-fire shooting as well as air defense exercises, and will be followed by an international fleet review.
AMAN is a message of peace and of being together with our friends and partners from all over the world, including China, Vice Admiral Ovais Ahmed Bilgrami, Commander of the Pakistan Fleet, told the Global Times on the sidelines at the opening ceremony.
“We want to build mutual capacities and mutual understandings so that we can all work together to ensure peace and security at sea,” he said.
“China has been our greatest friend. There’s no doubt that whatever the future holds for us at sea, it would not be possible without China. The China and Pakistan friendship is going to prosper further at sea,” said Commodore Sohail Ahmed Azmie, Commander of the Auxiliary and Mine Squadron of the Pakistan Navy.
He told the Global Times at the event that the Pakistan Navy has been operating with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, and in the future, this trend is going to be enhanced.
The participating vessel from China is the Nanning, a Type 052D guided missile destroyer that is part of the PLA Navy’s 43rd escort task force to the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia, which set out from a naval port in Zhanjiang, South China’s Guangdong Province on January 10.
It is the Nanning’s first time participating in such a mission. The domestically developed warship has received an upgraded propulsion system among many other modifications, the PLA Navy said in a press release at the time.
The Nanning arrived at Karachi on Thursday, and was met with a warm welcome from the host country.
Admiral M Amjad Khan Niazi, Chief of the Naval Staff of the Pakistan Navy, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview prior to the exercise that there are a number of non-traditional threats that prevail in the wider Indian Ocean region such as terrorism, piracy, drug smuggling, and arms trafficking. The vastness of the oceans makes the maritime arena an attractive avenue for illegal activities, and no country has the capability to singlehandedly counter these challenges.
The exercise is conducted with the aim of developing synergy between participating naval units to tackle maritime security challenges by enhancing interoperability between regional and extra-regional navies at different levels of technological prowess, he said.
As a maritime nation, Pakistan has substantial stakes in keeping its seas safe and secure, including the operationalization of the CPEC project and the global energy highway, the Global Times learned at the exercise.
The first edition of the Pakistan International Maritime Expo and Conference (PIMEC) was also launched on Friday in Karachi, concurrently with the AMAM-23 exercise.
Initiated by the Pakistan Navy, PIMEC aims to showcase the potential of Pakistan’s maritime sector and draw attention to the contribution that the maritime industry can make to the development of the blue economy.