The Pakistan Navy will host the largest multinational maritime exercise ‘Aman 21’ in the North Arabian Sea on 21 February 2021 with a mission to attain regional peace and counter maritime challenges, local media reported.
This year, Around 45 countries including US, China, Russia, UK, Turkey, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, GCC, African Union Countries and others are participating with aircraft carriers, frigate ships, special operation forces and observers are participating in this exercise. This will be the first time in a decade that Russia will participate in a joint military exercise with NATO members.
The exercise will be hosted under the slogan ‘Together for Peace’ and aims to strengthen and develop naval cooperation among the world navies to promote regional stability and counter maritime threats.
It offers the participating counties a chance to “work together keeping differences aside to defeat common adversaries” and hybrid warfare such as terrorism, piracy, terrorism, drugs and arms trafficking, human smuggling, climate change,” Pakistan Navy Chief Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi said.
“Aman Exercise is about bridging gaps and making it possible to operate together in pursuance of shared objectives,” he added.
Pakistan Navy initiated the exercise in 2007 with only three participants but the message of collaborative maritime security was widely accepted and the participation greatly expanded.
As many as 46 countries and 115 observers participated in Aman-19 naval exercises and around 11 navies, including those of China, US, UK, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Malaysia, Oman, Sri Lanka participated with their warships.
“It is a huge achievement for Pakistan Navy that the number of participating countries grew immensely in a few years as the message of peace and collaboration appealed to both eastern and western navies, NATO and non-NATO members,” said Commodore (R) Syed Mohammed Obaidullah.
The exercise should “not be seen as war games but drills against non-traditional security threats as the primary goal of Aman exercise is to uphold peace and stability in the region,” he stressed.
Aman exercises are the embodiment of the country’s commitment to peace and stability in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) through cooperation between the navies of East and West that share the common goal of peace.
With the growing competition between China and United States in the region, “Pakistan has chosen to act as a bridge in the region due to its traditional role as a peacemaker in maritime domain,” said Dr. Khurram Iqbal, Head of International Relations department at National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad.
Through the Aman exercise, Pakistan “will once again play the role of a peacemaker and provide a platform for China and Russia on one side and US and allies on the other side to come together.”
The exercise is also an enabler of Pakistan Navy’s ambitions of transforming into a blue water force as it is in the process of equipping itself with the modern surface, airborne, submerged and unmanned systems to develop capabilities to play a greater role in the Indian Ocean Region.
Pakistan’s unique geostrategic importance has further elevated with the development of the new Gwadar Port under the multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which calls for enhanced maritime security.
Gwadar port is located close to the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil transit chokepoint, and connects three regions South Asia, Middle East and Central Asia. Pakistan Navy’s initiatives such as Aman exercise are also vital to secure the national and global sea routes in the IOR, country’s maritime security, and overall national security, experts say.