Pakistan Navy Aman
Pakistan Naval Chief with Indonesian Ambassador and crew on Indonesian Ship at AMAN-23. Image Credit: Pakistan Navy

Islamabad: Naval vessels, aircraft, special operation forces, marines, and sailors from around 50 countries are participating in the five-day multinational exercise by Pakistan Navy in the Arabia Sea.

The eighth edition of the naval exercise, called AMAN-23, is being held from February 10 to 14, 2023. The exercise began in Karachi with a vibrant flag-hoisting ceremony held at the Pakistan Navy Dockyard which was attended by senior military representatives from participating countries, observers, diplomats, and Pakistan Navy officials with the flags of all 50 participating nations hoisted at the event.

Navies of the United States, China, Turkey, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh as well as African Union countries, are taking part in the event with ships, aircraft, special operations forces, marine teams, and observers.

‘Together for Peace’

Pakistan Navy Chief Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi welcomed the participants and said that “Pakistan Navy has been a forerunner in promoting collaborative maritime security in the region” and AMAN Exercise “is a regular feature that involves regional and extra-regional navies to create a secure and favourable maritime environment” and activities in the region.

Commander Pakistan Fleet, Vice Admiral Ovais Ahmed Bilgrami, said that the flags of 50 participating countries fluttering together “is an embodiment of the Exercise motto which is ‘Together for Peace’”. AMAN means peace in Urdu. The exercise also “helps foster friendship, bridging gaps and making it possible for countries to operate together in the pursuance of shared objectives,” Bilagram told reporters.

pakistan navy
Navy Chief reviewing guard aboard Chinese ship at AMAN-23 Image Credit: Pakistan navy

As a maritime nation, Pakistan had “substantial stakes” in keeping the seas safe and secure, he said. “Our interests are based on three major factors. Firstly, our extraordinary dependence on the seas for trade, secondly, operationalisation of the CPEC [China Pakistan Economic Corridor] project and thirdly, our strategic location astride the global energy highway.” All of these factors, he said, made maritime stability a “vital national security interest.”

Exercise AMAN-23

The eighth series of AMAN exercise is aimed at developing synergy between participating naval units to tackle maritime security challenges by enhancing interoperability between regional and extra-regional navies. The exercise will be held in two phases. The harbour phase (February 10 to 12) involves seminars, operational discussions, professional demonstrations, international get-togethers and pre-sail planning of evolutions at sea. The sea phase (February 13 - 14) would include tactical manoeuvres, exercises related to maritime security such as anti-piracy and counter-terrorism, search and rescue, gunnery firings, and air defence exercises to demonstrate unified resolve against maritime terrorism, piracy, and other prevalent illicit activities at sea.

Maritime expo and conference

In addition to the exercise, the Pakistan International Maritime Expo and Conference (PIMEC) has also been organised by the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA). Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Admiral Niazi joined the opening of PIMEC which is an initiative of the Pakistan Navy to showcase the potential of Pakistan’s maritime sector and to highlight the vital role the maritime industry can play in the development of the nation’s blue economy.

Chinese naval ship Nanning to participating

Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Type 052D guided-missile destroyer Nanning is participating in the drills, the Chinese defence ministry said. China and Pakistan have maintained close naval and maritime exchanges and cooperation in recent years. Pakistan is procuring four advanced Type 054A/P frigates from China. The first two ships, PNS Tughril and PNS Taimur, were inducted into the Pakistan Navy in December 2021 and June 2022 while the remaining two ships are expected to join the fleet in 2023. In a recent interview with Chinese media, Pakistan Navy Chief Admiral Niazi said that collaboration with China has been strengthened with the procurement of F-22P frigates, Fast Attack Craft armed with missiles, helicopters, a survey ship, and medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicles. “The ongoing planned induction of Type 054A/Ps and Hangor-class submarines will further cement naval ties between the two countries.”

Indonesian Navy participation

The Indonesian Navy is participating in the multinational AMAN Exercise 2023 with its warship KRI Raden Eddy Martadinata-331. Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia Adam Mulawarman Tugio was present in Karachi to welcome the ship and crew from his country. The ambassador said that the participation of KRI R.E. Martadinata-331 in the AMAN Exercise is a testament to the strong bond between Indonesia and Pakistan and their commitment to strengthening defence ties. He hoped that the joint naval exercise would enhance cooperation among participating countries. Speaking about economic cooperation, Ambassador Tugio urged Pakistani businesses to explore Indonesia as a trade hub to access the ASEAN market with 640 million people. He suggested deepening connectivity through infrastructure and people-to-people connections between the two countries.