Committed to freedom of navigation in Arabian Sea, says Pak PM Nawaz Sharif

Pakistan is fully committed to ensuring freedom of navigation and lawful maritime order, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said as a multi-nation naval exercise hosted by the country kicked off in the Arabian Sea today.

The five-day exercise codenamed ‘Aman 17’ began off the coast of Karachi with the participation of 37 countries. The major participants include the US, China and Russia, but India is not participating. Commander of the Pakistani fleet Vice Admiral Arifullah Hussaini inaugurated the exercise by hoisting the national flag at Karachi dockyard.

Nine platforms from nine countries arrived to participate in the naval exercise, according to a statement by the navy.

“Navies of 37 countries are participating in ‘Aman 17’, out of which 9 countries are participating with naval assets including Australia, China, Indonesia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, UK, USA, Japan and Russia,” the navy said.

Russia’s Severomorsk anti-war ship, Altay Tug Boat and Dubna tanker are part of the exercise and the participating units will rehearse various naval operations to enhance mutual understanding and regional stability, it said.

“Aim of this multi-national exercise is to display united resolve against terrorism and crimes in maritime domain,” it said. The exercise will also help in enhancing Pakistan Navy’s interoperability with regional and extra-regional navies thereby acting as a bridge between the regions, according to the statement.

Vice admiral Husaini said the exercise would help work against human trafficking, narcotics smuggling, and terrorism in the region, Radio Pakistan reported.

Sharif extended a warm welcome to all participants. He said Pakistan, being a major stakeholder in maritime security of the Arabian Sea, is fully committed to ensuring freedom of navigation and lawful maritime order.

He pointed out that maritime security challenges in the Indian Ocean are both multi-dimensional and multi-faceted.

Threats such as maritime terrorism, drug trafficking and piracy have acquired international dimensions, he said. ‘Aman-17’ is the fifth such exercise that has taken place.

Pakistan has been holding the exercise every alternate year since 2007.