Chinese naval ships get warm welcome in Pakistan

 

 

Commander Pakistan Fleet Vice Admiral Abbas Raza said that since the Mumbai attacks, the Maritime Security Agency and Indian Coast Guards have established a special hotline to stay in direct contact to avoid any future untoward incidents.

The commander was answering questions at a briefing held for the media at the fleet headquarters in Karachi on Monday about the Aman-11 exercise in which around 40 countries are participating.

Raza said the magnitude of the threat in the seas had diversified over the years which included terrorism, weapons smuggling, narcotics trade, human trafficking and piracy. “It is not possible for any one country to single-handedly deal with all these threats,” he said, adding that there was a dire need for ‘collective and collaborative’ security.

The Aman series of exercises which would formally begin on Tuesday is one example of promoting mutual understanding and interoperability between regional and friendly countries against asymmetric threats, he said.

Naval ships from all over the world have started to arrive in Karachi to participate in the exercise which will be conducted between March 8, and March 12. Around eleven countries, including the US, UK, China, France, Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia have sent their ships and Special Marines Forces for participation.

Twenty-eight countries, including Russia, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, South Korea and Netherlands have sent their delegations to participate in the exercise as observers.

When asked whether India was asked to participate since this was a regional exercise, Raza said that would only become possible once relations between the two countries improve and key issues like Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek are resolved.

He said Iran and Bangladesh chose not to participate despite invitations being sent to them. Sri Lanka too backed out at the last minute.

He said that piracy at sea remained a formidable challenge which had now spread out to the Indian Ocean from initially being limited to just the Strait of Malacca. He added that acts of piracy were hurting areas important to Pakistan, not too far from its exclusive economic zone.

“We are keeping track of ship movements through the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation,” the Vice Admiral informed about the anti-piracy efforts.

When asked if the recent strain in diplomatic relations between Pakistan and the US had any adverse effect on them, Raza said professional cooperation between the armed forces were excellent. He added that both countries continue to have officers and training exchange programmes.

Meanwhile, Chinese naval ships were accorded a warm welcome when they arrived in the Karachi harbour on Monday. Talking to the media, Commanding Officer of the Chinese ship said that the long-standing Sino-Pakistan friendship was beyond all boundaries.

The Aman-11 exercise is third in line of its biennial series of exercises being conducted off Pakistan’s coast. The first exercise Aman-07 was held in March 2007 followed by Aman-09 in March 2009.

Ships, delegations arrive from world over for naval exercise – The Express Tribune.

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