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Since 2007 a major international naval exercise called AMAN (Peace) organised every two years by Pakistan Navy with an aim to improve navy-to-navy cooperation. The exercise AMAN enhances interoperability potential between regional and other navies. The magnificent gathering brings together navies from a large number of other countries.

The cress manning ships from participating nations together with observers from other nations freely mingle with officers and men of Pakistan Navy. The exercise AMAN serves as a global platform that enhances professional communication amongst participating naval fleets.

The exercise also improves Pakistan’s standing in the international community. Such activities support Pakistan’s cultural ideals. It gives visiting countries a good insight into Pakistan. The scenario is a classic illustration of marine diplomacy.

Aman-23 is unique in a number of ways. With its slogan “Together for Peace”, the multinational exercise comes at a time of some seismic changes taking place globally. The Indian Ocean and its surroundings are being significantly impacted by these changes. Pakistan Navy will host more than 40 countries in AMAN-23.

The current exercise will be eighth of the AMAN series. These initiatives validate PN’s unfaltering resolve to advance the cause of “freedom of seas” and raise prestige of Pakistan. In holding such exercises PN attempts to eliminate from Indian Ocean illicit activities in all their forms and manifestations.

These actions confirm PN’s unwavering commitment to promoting “freedom of the seas” and enhancing Pakistan’s reputation. PN aims to eradicate all criminal activities in the Indian Ocean by holding similar drills.

It has largely facilitated smooth and steady flow of commerce on its maritime highways. This is especially true for the western quadrant of the Indian Ocean. The exercise also underscores need for developing combined potential for humanitarian assistance in the region.

The contest for global supremacy in the Indian Ocean has never been more heated since the conclusion of the Cold War. Multi-polarity is entering a new era. The Indian and Pacific Oceans are the current focal point of growing conflict, in contrast to the former situation where the Eurasian landmass served as the primary battleground.

Through the use of maritime military power, power politics are advanced across two oceans. The most recent display of power involved a two-phased naval exercise that was jointly undertaken by the navies of India, the US, Australia, and Japan.

The exercise appears to be grounded on a commitment to open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order as well as shared values. In actuality, it’s a brazen display of unified naval power meant to “contain” China.

After all, the US’s “containment” policy from the Cold War is back, and the US must periodically create “threats” to maintain the activity of its own military industrial complex, support factories, and research and development facilities. Under prime minister Narendra Modi, India too must create Chinese hysteria it serves two purposes.

The alarm maintains New Delhi’s strategic importance to the United States. Additionally, it diverts home audiences’ focus away from a struggling economy and provides cover for a government that has come under fire in international capitals for the brutality and flagrant human rights violations perpetrated against people of Kashmir and minorities throughout mainland India.

The Indian Ocean is ‘the world’s busiest trade corridor’. Two-thirds of global oil shipments and one-third of bulk cargo transit via this Ocean, roughly 80 per cent of China’s. Around 90 per cent of South Korea’s and 90 per cent of Japan’s oil passes through the Indian Ocean.

AMAN promotes a shared vision to reinforce maritime security in the Indian Ocean. The exercise is designed to ensure unhindered and safe trade through the Indian Ocean region.

As a large naval assemblage, AMAN has no political undertones. It does not aim to target any country except ensure peace and stability. It is focused at counteracting against unconventional challenges like piracy, trafficking, terrorism, natural disaster, etc.

In recent times, the intensity of transnational criminal activities and other crimes has significantly declined in the maritime region of interest to Pakistan. Thanks in large part to Pakistan Navy; operations in the UNSCR instituted coalition(s), independent patrolling and exercises like AMAN that largely contributed towards this decline. The menace nonetheless still lurks.

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 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 this improves Pakistan Navy’s capability to combat non-traditional threats and improve the country’s soft image in the international community.

The exercise has been designed in such a way that it is divided into two phases: Harbor and Sea. In harbor phase activities, such as friendly sport matches, international cultural displays are being conducted.

Whereas in sea phase, an international fleet review is carried out along with other various exercises to practice and firm up a 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 a combined action against asymmetric threats at sea.

This time alongside AMAN-23, 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 development of maritime sector in Pakistan and spur blue economy.

PIMEC is scheduled from 10 to 12 Feb, 2023 and the exhibition will bring together stakeholders and companies from diverse maritime fields to exploit and explore the potential of blue economy.

The AMAN-23 is focused with an aim to collectively work 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 ensuring interoperability in a diverse threat environment; to address the issue of climate change; to highlight the significance of CPEC, including the Gwadar port, before the delegates of the participating countries.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

Muhammad Azam Khan

The writer is a contributing columnist on maritime security matters

Comments

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Rebirth Dec 18, 2022 06:37am
Pakistan is located at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz that accounts for 20% of global oil trade. The Iranians got access to their $500 billion when they wreaked havoc in the strait. We also have $200 billion in our Swiss Banks that we could get back by the most basic naval blockade of the strait. But because the corrupt criminals in power, who would rather put our national interests up for sale for $200, all belong to landlocked areas where they can’t even use their rivers right, we’re living in incessant poverty. Ayub Khan being the only exception, who got us Gwadar. We needed an aircraft carrier, that the man who bribed corrupt officers to buy the Bahria brand, could’ve financed to compensate for more than a decade of unpaid royalties. We still need one. Our status as a regional power extends to the Red Sea, from our 12 nautical mile radius of the Arabian Sea. But lions can only roar when they’re being ruled by dogs. That’s all we’re doing. That’s all we’re ever going to do.
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Sajjad Ilyas Dec 19, 2022 03:48am
Problem with country is that we are being ruled from abroad. As quoted by Gen(R) Hameed Gul "COAS is appointed by USA not by Pakistani PM". This trend can be seen from Gen. Ayub who sold three Eastern river water right to India for paltry amount. No other nation has done it. Same did my Gen Bajwa. Cypher comes from abroad to overthrow government and he executes it.
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MohammadShoaib Dec 19, 2022 06:38am
@Sajjad Ilyas, LOL These are "Political Failures". Our Generals have never lost war or made anti Pakistan Decision. They are absolute Neutrals. They live among ordinary Pakistanis not in barricaded and luxurious cantonments. ABSOLUTE ANGELS!
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