by Ubaid Ahmed 11 February 2019
The great exponent of sea power, the American naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan, who died in 1914, is still read with attention by political leaders and their military advisers today. “Control of the sea,” he wrote in 1890, “by maritime commerce and naval supremacy, means predominant influence in the world; because, however great the wealth product of the land, nothing facilitates the necessary exchanges as does the sea.”
The seas and oceans are the principal empowering agents to make Earth home to humankind. They spread 75% of its surface, and their physical, compound and natural properties make the marine condition essential to the presence of life on our planet. As pointed out by the United Nations, ‘our water, drinking water, climate, atmosphere, coastlines, quite a bit of our nourishment, and even the oxygen noticeable all around we inhale, are for the most part regulated and provided by the sea.
The Indian Ocean is an important ocean in that it occupies vital trade routes and resources. In the west of the Indian Ocean, there lies Africa and Arabian Peninsula, to the north lies the Indian sub-continent while to the east lies Australia. Pakistan is one of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean and claims its due share in the Indian Ocean. The security imperatives and economic opportunities compel Pakistan to secure its broader interests in the Indian Ocean.
Pakistan has always played a positive and contributory role in promoting of regional integration and maintenance of order and peace in the Indian Ocean with a particular focus on North Arabian Sea (NAS) which encompass Pakistan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf. The importance of 1000km long coastline of Pakistan that extends from Sir Creek to Jiwani towards Iran is undeniable in many ways. While aligning with the foreign policy and other regional and international obligations of Pakistan, Pakistan Navy over the decades had undertaken specific and far-reaching initiatives. Exercise AMAN is one such example. PN calendar of activities also contain engagements with regional and extra-regional counterparts like Exercise NASEEM-AL-BAHR with Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF), THAMAR-AL-THAYAB with Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) to name a few.
Notwithstanding Pakistan has remained a very active and vital member of Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan (CMCP) under the ambit of CTF-150 operating in Gulf of Oman (
However to enhance global cooperation and interoperability of maritime forces and to project a soft yet firm image of Pakistan, PN initiated holding of multinational biennial Exercise AMAN in 2007. The seventh exercise of AMAN series, Exercise AMAN-2019 is taking place in Karachi started on 8th February 2019. A sizeable number of surface ships, air assets, Marines and Special Operation Forces (SOF) and observers from about 83 countries are participating in the exercise.
The exercise is divided into two phases; the harbor phase which includes among other things a dynamic show of maritime air, Marines and SOF elements of Pakistan Navy. The main highlight of the harbor phase is a Fleet Review which will be held be off Karachi harbor at Manora. Surface combatants, Marines/SOF and air assets of PN will participate in the Fleet Review. The sea phase will comprise of combined maneuvers of participating forces in the Arabian Sea aimed at enhancing interoperability and learning from each other experiences and good practices. The mega event will end with an impressive cultural show and food gala in which all the participating nations will showcase their national culture and cuisine.
Pakistan is hosting the event to prove her maritime capability and strength and contribution in maintaining peace worldwide. Pakistan is a peace desirous country and does not have aggressive designs against any other nation-state or country. Just like land borders, there are issues at sea which relate to territorial waters, contagious zones, exclusive economic zones, and continental shelf and Pakistan is desirous to resolve them all with its neighbors following international law and expects others to reciprocate in the same spirit. Complete agreements and engagements are needed with all the stakeholders in the region and such maritime activities and naval engagements array Pakistan’s yearnings for regional and global peace.