The five-day multinational naval exercise Aman-2019, in which 46 nations are taking part, kicked off in Karachi on Friday.
As the ceremony began, the flags of all participating nations were hoisted, and contingents of the Pakistan Navy presented a march-past.
The principal purpose of the exercise, conducted after every two years since it was initiated in 2007, is to provide a forum for understanding of each other’s maritime concepts and operational cultures and come up with ways and means to combat common threats at sea.
The Pakistan Navy’s ships, submarines, boats, marines and special forces will all take part in the exercise, along with the Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Army and Pakistan Rangers.
Commander Pakistan Fleet Vice Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi was the chief guest at the opening ceremony, Radio Pakistan reported. Ambassadors and delegates of various countries were also present at the inauguration ceremony.
The exercise will be conducted in two phases. The harbour phase from Friday to Sunday will be followed by a sea phase on Feb 11 and 12.
Harbour activities will include seminars, discussions and demonstrations along with a three-day international maritime conference on ‘Global geopolitics in transition: rethinking maritime dynamics in the Indian Ocean region’.
‘Aman-19 allows navies to benefit from each other’
Addressing the ceremony, Vice Admiral Niazi said that the Aman-19 exercise seeks to enhance cooperation between countries and allows them to take benefit from mutual advantages and understand each other.
He said that maritime security is pivotal for national security and protection of maritime routes is also necessary for the economy.
At a media briefing on Thursday, Vice Admiral Niazi had said that maritime security should be quintessentially cooperative instead of being competitive.
He had said that the exercise also provided participating countries the chance to foster friendships, which could lead them to develop and practice common tactics, procedures and mechanics to deal with the maritime threats that affected them all: “Overall, the Aman Exercise is about bridging gaps and making it possible to operate together in pursuance of shared objectives.”
He said Aman-2019 was mostly a non-firing exercise as live weapon firing was only carried out in a marked area known to all ships. “But Aman-2019 will reinforce the confidence of [other] countries in Pakistan and the Pakistan Navy. So the message goes out as relations, especially diplomatic relations, between countries are improved.”