Observer report Islamabad
A webinar was held by Maritime Study Forum (MSF) on ‘AMAN: Pakistan’s Dynamic Initiative for Peace’. The guests and participants in the session included prominent scholars from academia, media persons, policy makers and students. The webinar was held keeping in view Pakistan’s active role in promoting peace and stability in the Indian Ocean Region.
Pakistan’s commitment to ‘peaceful existence’ and desire for regional stability is reflected through its participation in various international peace keeping missions, Combined Task Forces 150 and 151, various indigenous initiatives and multilateral exercises like Regional Maritime Security Patrols (RMSP) and AMAN exercises.
The webinar included a talk by panelists, followed by an interactive session. The panelists included Commodore (R) Syed Mohammed Obaidullah, SI(M), Member Board of Advisors MSF, Dr. Khurram Iqbal, HOD IR Department, National Defence University and Member Board of Directors, MSF, Mr. Ejaz Haider, Executive Editor Indus News. The webinar was moderated by Attorney Muslim Bin Aqeel, Research Associate MSF. Very pertinent issues were raised during this session that led to an in depth view of AMAN Exercises.
Commodore (R) Syed M. Obaidullah highlighted the maritime diplomacy carried out by Pakistan Navy to promote peace in the region. AMAN exercises are not war games, but rather drills against non-traditional security threats. Pakistan Navy is actively upholding peace and stability firstly in the region and then in the world.
Whereas the Malabar Exercise conducted by India is China centric. As far as Pakistan is concerned Pakistan has been able to send its message of tranquility to both eastern and western naval forces. We have gained the confidence of number of countries from the world, as AMAN exercise is against no one. These are the two major exercises taking place in the region, and their objectives are completely different.
Ejaz Haider deliberated on Pakistan’s steps and efforts to strengthen peace in the region. Pakistan Navy is actively engaging in Indian Ocean with its vigilant naval diplomacy.
It has commanded multinational Combined Task Forces for a number of times. Pakistan Navy despite being left out has proved to be vigilant at all fronts through its naval diplomacy. Pakistan Navy is the most neglected of the three services, but has been very active in bilateral and multilateral forums. AMAN exercise is an important part of maritime diplomacy of Pakistan.
Dr. Khuram Iqbal emphasized on Pakistan’s role as a bridge in the polarizing region, that is also reflected in AMAN exercises. Pakistan has always been effected by the great power competition throughout its history. Earlier it was great power rivalry in Afghanistan that is cooling down recently. However the Sino-US rivalry in Indian Ocean is now heating up once again.
The Indian Ocean region that has always been a zone of peace is now transforming into a zone of conflict. Amid this clash of titans, Pakistan is presented with a choice of either taking sides once again or to remain neutral. Pakistan has chosen to act as a bridge in the region once again. Through AMAN exercise it will provide platform for China and Russia on one side and US and allies on the other side to come together.
The webinar concluded with closing remarks from Dr. Khuram Iqbal. He concluded the webinar with a note of thanks to the esteemed guests, and emphasized on holding such informative webinars and sessions to create maritime awareness in the country.
He also reiterated the common emphasis of the panelists that Pakistan Navy initiatives like AMAN are effective measures to promote Pakistan’s maritime diplomacy and security, and complement overall national security of the country. However many initiatives of Pakistan Navy remain constrained due to budgetary reasons. Therefore a higher budgetary allocation to Pakistan Navy, and Pakistan’s maritime sector in general, is essential to promote Pakistan’s interests and ensure national security.