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Karachi: The opening ceremony of Pakistan Navy’s multinational exercise Aman-19 is under way on Friday. The five-day exercise is aimed at enhancing cooperation for keeping the seas safe from pirates, terrorists and smugglers.—White Star
Karachi: The opening ceremony of Pakistan Navy’s multinational exercise Aman-19 is under way on Friday. The five-day exercise is aimed at enhancing cooperation for keeping the seas safe from pirates, terrorists and smugglers.—White Star

KARACHI: The parchum parade or flag party, as it is also known, marched in on the tune for the national song Iss parchum ke saye taley hum aik hain with every officer holding a neatly folded flag of each of the 46 participating countries in the sixth Aman-2019 Exercise, which commenced with an impressive flag hoisting ceremony at the Naval Dockyard early on Friday.

Soon the representatives of each of the countries — Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, Djibouti, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nigeria, Oman, Palestine, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, UAE, USA, UK, Zimbabwe and Pakistan of course — took their positions in front of their respective flagpoles. Following a three-volley gun salute, the flags were hoisted with the playing of Pakistan’s national anthem as all personnel in uniform saluted and the guests stood up in respect.

On the occasion, Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi’s message was read out. The CNS said in the message that it was gratifying to see how in the last few years the form of Aman had expanded greatly. “The exercise provides not only a medium to develop doctrinal synergy to tackle maritime security challenges, it also serves to enhance interoperability among navies at different pedestals of technological prowess to come together and secure a safe and sustainable maritime environment,” he said.

Following a three-volley gun salute, flags of participating countries hoisted with the playing of Pakistan’s national anthem

“Today, threats to maritime security increasingly emanate from contemporary asymmetric challenges that have deeply impacted the maritime environment. There is a strong realisation that given the vast expanse of oceans and an array of maritime threats, preserving maritime order in the global commons, necessitates collaborative efforts as a matter of compulsion rather than choice,” he said.

“Pakistan is a firm believer in collaborative maritime security and has taken a number of initiatives in this regard. Regional Maritime Security Patrols [RMSP] is one such initiative of Pakistan Navy to fulfil international obligations, besides protection of own national interests in the Indian Ocean Region [IOR],” the message stated.

The RMSP is focused on establishing maritime patrols along the vital choke points and important waterways of IOR to ensure good order at sea.

Pakistan Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi said that the presence of so many countries’ navies in Pakistan for Aman-19 was “indicative of their common resolve to promote collaboration, enhance regional cooperation and ensure maintenance of good order at sea for protection of global commons”.

He added that today’s maritime environment was marred with traditional and non-traditional challenges, which required a collaborative response by like-minded navies. “Establishment of the Gwadar deep water port and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have further enhanced the strategic importance of the North Arabian Sea, opening new vistas of regional connectivity and economic opportunities,” he said.

Later, some of the visiting foreign navy officers also spoke to the media. Colonel Nanjo DA Mamoru of the Japan Navy said that he was glad to be a part of the Aman Exercise and remained impressed with the Pakistan Navy.

Rear Admiral J.J. Ranasinghe, the chief of staff of Sri Lanka Navy, said that it was good if seafarers could meet often and grow together.

The Commanding Officer of Italian Navy Ship Carlo Margottini, Commander Marco Guerriero, also said that he felt honoured and privileged to be in Pakistan and be participating in the exercise.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2019