KARACHI: The multi-nation Aman-2017 naval exercise formally began after an opening ceremony held at the Navy Dockyard on Friday.
The ceremony saw flags of 37 countries, which are participating in the exercise, lining up in alphabetical order. The flags were hoisted after a three-volley gun salute. Pakistan Navy personnel holding a folded flag of each country smartly marched up to the flagpoles in their crisp white uniforms, with the PNS Gwadar Band playing ceremonial tunes. Everyone then rose for Pakistan’s national anthem as all personnel in uniform saluted. They were all there, together for peace.
Representatives of the participating countries were standing in front of their country flags for many memorable photographs. Some of them shared views with media personnel gathered there to cover the event.
In his message, read out at the opening ceremony, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah said: “The vastness of the oceans and threats posed in maritime security also do not respect boundaries as their effects are felt globally.
“Consequently, there is a strong realisation that no one nation can single-handedly cope with the quantum of this prevailing threat, making cooperative maritime strategy a matter of compulsion rather than choice.”
Speaking on the occasion, Commander Pakistan Fleet Vice Admiral Arifullah Hussaini, who was chief guest at the ceremony, said that Arabic word ‘Aman’ meant peace. But, just the absence of war could not be defined as peace, he said, adding that peace came by ensuring security. “So, ‘Aman’ cannot be complete without security. The concept of making arms and preparing for war is peace and not actually war.”
He said the preparation for war was to ensure the safety. “In the next five days all the 37 nations participating in the Aman-2017 will stand together and cooperate to maintain a lasting peace in the world,” he added as balloons were released and doves were freed.
Commodore Zakaur Rehman of Pakistan Navy said that it was good to see more and more countries joining in the Aman exercise and seeing the PN’s viewpoint on the issues of counterterrorism and counter-piracy.
Lieutenant Commander Sigrid Hansen from Denmark and Scandinavia said that it was great to meet all these people from all around the world. “It is so great working together to spread peace in the world,” she said.
Colonel Kin Schmidt, also of Denmark, said that the Scandinavian country was mainly participating in the exercise as an observer and wanted to see what was going on in the region and cooperate with Pakistan Navy.
Commander Markus Hember, captain of Royal Navy’s HMS Daring, a huge destroyer, said that cooperation at sea was indeed very important to overcome some of the challenges all participating countries faced. “I am very happy to be here. We are here to learn as well as contribute,” he said.
Commander Task Group, Bai Yao Ping of China, said that China and Pakistan had always maintained good and traditional friendship. He said he was very happy to be here again to participate in the fifth exercise in the Aman series.
Lieutenant Oner Yokuva of Turkey also spoke.
Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2017