AMAN 2023: An expert opinion | By Dr Mehmood-ul-Hassan Khan

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AMAN 2023: An expert opinion

THE government of Pakistan has already embarked on the path of geo-economics by discarding the long association with geopolitics.

Rise to economic diplomacy, persuasions of economic diversification, development of blue economy and last but not the least, achieving the dreams of greater regional connectivity through the CPEC has further highlighted the strategic importance of Pakistan Navy.

In this regard, a series of AMAN international naval exercises have further boosted Pakistan maritime security mechanism, blue economy, regional outreach, compatibility against human & drugs trafficking, terrorism as well as the least, operational network against pirates.

Now Pakistan Navy strives hard for the successful holding of the AMAN 2023 which will further improve its overall operational and tactical preparedness in terms of intelligence sharing, joint manoeuvrings against state & non-state threats, modernization along with protection and security mechanism in deep waters and coastal areas.

Our socio-economic prosperity, regional connectivity, regional integration and easy and smooth supplies of food and energy belong to oceans.

Pakistan is blessed with a vast area of ocean which has been further consolidated with holding of a series of AMAN Naval exercises since 2007.

Moreover, strategic naval cooperation with China and Türkiye has further enhanced our maritime security and outreach.

Pakistan has already taken the path of blue development. The government of Pakistan declared the year 2020 as the year of Blue Economy, with an aim to exploit the maritime resources for the development of the country in which the role of Pakistan Navy (PN) is very important.

The PN cares about marine transportation, fisheries, tourism, aqua-culture, offshore drilling, renewable energy resources, waste management, maritime research and development, ship-making and ship-breaking and Exclusive Economic Zones etc.

According to an estimate of Commonwealth report (2018), the total global volume of the blue economy is $ 1.7 trillion per year.

Moreover, worldwide 385 million people’s income is directly related with the fishery industry.

It is said that till 2025, thirty-four per cent of the total crude oil production will come out from oceans.

According to the World Bank report, 80 per cent of the total world trade occurs through oceans.

Therefore, AMAN 2023 stands for holistic and comprehensive development of blue economy, maritime security and easy & smooth supplies of energies.

Interestingly, Pakistan has a long coastal-line over 1050 Km along the Indian Ocean, which stretches along the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan.

In addition to this Pakistan’s maritime sovereignty includes Exclusive Economic Zones (EES) of 240,000 Sq. Km and 50,000 Sq Km of Continental Shelf, which become greater than the combined area of the provinces of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Despite Western mass media false and fake propaganda AMAN exercises have no political agenda.

It aims to develop friendly relationships and cooperation among the participating countries. It facilitates inter-operability, camaraderie among naval crews and removing barriers.

It enhances mutual understanding and vouches to aid each other against non-traditional threats of terrorism, piracy, armed robbery, narco-trade, arms smuggling, human trafficking, illegal fishing and other illicit activities in our neighbouring maritime area.

Pakistan Navy has been in the forefront of maintaining security as part of coalition forces CTF 150 and 151 and patrolling even singly far reaches of the Indian Ocean.

AMAN 2023 manifests Pakistan Navy’s desire in maintaining peace, stability and security in the Arabian Sea and the wider Indian Ocean.

It will show the world its collective resolve to maintain ‘AMAN’ in maritime domain. In this connection, AMAN 2023 stands for Responses, Tactics, Techniques and Procedures against conventional and unconventional threats faced by today’s world.

Hopefully, AMAN 2023 will play an important role for formation of a joint strategy among the participating navies to develop a united approach for the regional maritime security.

Moreover it includes enhancement of professional expertise in capability of joint operations and regional peace and security.

To conclude, AMAN 2023 would be a giant step towards regional peace, stability, harmony, easy and smooth supplies of food & energy along with further strengthening of joint response against traditional and non-traditional threats in the days to come. 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.

Due to Indian wild obsession of regional supremacy, defence strategic partnership of the US-India, formation of AUKUS, activation of QUAD, naval supremacy in ASEAN, and last but not the least, NATO presence in the region has alarmed policy-makers of Pakistan to take all possible measures to protect vested interests through peaceful endeavours and AMAN naval exercises stands for it.

The current US policy of India Pacific has rattled many regional capitals including China and Pakistan. It only aims to contain China.

It seems that the US’s “containment” policy from the Cold War is back, and the US is periodically creating threats to maintain the activity of its own military industrial complex, support factories and research and development facilities. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is also creating instability and fuss in the region.

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.

Complex and complicated conflicting reality has further enhanced strategic importance of the Arabian Sea region which is strategically important as major Indian ports including Kandla, Okha, Mumbai, Mormugao, New Mangalore and Kochi are located there.

Maritime security and blue economy have direct correlation which has encouraged Pakistan and China to further strengthen their cooperation in diverse sector of naval mechanism.

Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Asia-Pacific waters and last but not the least, South China Sea have become a common benchmark between China and Pakistan to excel in these deep waters to protect their vested socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic interests.

Drastic paradigm shift in counterinsurgency, counterterrorism operations territorial defence threats have changed the regional naval security mechanism. Therefore, AMAN 2023 has become hottest topic in the region and beyond.

—The writer is Executive Director, Centre for South Asia & International Studies, Islamabad, regional expert China, BRI & CPEC & senior analyst, world affairs, Pakistan Observer.