KARACHI: Vessels from the navies of Pakistan, the United States and Germany take part in an exercise in the Arabian Sea on Tuesday.—PPI
KARACHI: Vessels from the navies of Pakistan, the United States and Germany take part in an exercise in the Arabian Sea on Tuesday.—PPI

KARACHI: Navies of Pakistan, German and the United States conducted a two-day passing exercise in the Arabian Sea, which concluded on Tuesday.

The exercise was held with an aim of strengthening cooperation and advancing a common vision to ensure peace and stability. Multiple ships from the partner nations, including Pakistan Navy’s PNS Alamgir, the USS Shiloh and the German Navy’s FGS Bayern, operated in close proximity to promote interoperability, share maritime knowledge, and improve maritime domain awareness. The second day of the training was bilateral between Pakistan and the United States to continue building on the important and substantive collaboration.

The frigate Bayern is a part of German Navy’s Indo-Pacific Deployment 2021. Bayern with its crew of over 200 sailors left the German port of Wilhelmshaven for Asia on Aug 2, and it will join in maritime monitoring of the UN sanctions against North Korea, dock at ports in partner countries and take part in multilateral activities. During its six-month mission the frigate is scheduled to call at several ports — Karachi being the first one in the region. After weeks at sea, the German crew is also looking forward to discovering the picturesque city life and famous hospitality of its first port of call in Asia.

Upon its departure, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas commented: “The Indo-Pacific is where the international order of the future will be decided. We want to help shape it and to take on responsibility for upholding the rules-based international order. Its mission is to support us in upholding international law and improving security in the Indo-Pacific together with our partners.”

Germany’s inclusion in the exercise marks the 70th anniversary of Pak-German relations

The USS Shiloh is part of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and is deployed to the US 5th Fleet in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean.

US Consul General Mark Stroh boarded the USS Shiloh along with Rear Admiral Jawad Ahmed, Commander, Pakistan Navy Western Command, based in Gwadar, and US Rear Admiral Will Pennington, Commanding Officer of the Strike Group, for the helicopter cross-deck landing portion of the event.

“I was proud to witness the naval exercise that included our close partners Pakistan and Germany,” said US Consul General Mark Stroh. “The United States and Pakistan have collaborated together for decades to promote a peaceful, stable, and prosperous South Asia. Our enduring military-to-military ties, demonstrated by today’s successful naval exercise, strengthen the US-Pakistan relationship and support our peoples’ prosperity and security.”

It was also said that training events such as these help provide for the freedom of navigation and secure sea-lanes of communication that are vital for the economic prosperity of the region, and especially port cities such as Karachi and Gwadar.

“Today’s joint multi-domain operations demonstrate the capacity of the international rules-based system to advance a common vision ensuring peace and stability. The United States greatly values our bilateral relationship with Pakistan, and we appreciate all the support your country has provided during the last month of operations,” said Rear Admiral Will Pennington.

Following a successful day of operations advancing US-Pakistan partnership to promote stability in the region, Rear Admiral Jawad Ahmed also noted that “exercises like this cement our relationship”.

Meanwhile, the inclusion of Germany in the exercise also marked the 70th anniversary of German-Pakistani bilateral relations.

Ambassador Bernhard Schlagheck of Germany said that their frigate Bayern’s visit, roughly one month after PNS Zulfiqar berthed in the port of Hamburg, is not only a visible sign of the increased importance of the Indo-Pacific for Germany but it also clearly reflects the multifaceted German-Pakistan relations. “It is truly a special event to kick off our celebrations for the 70th anniversary,” he said.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah will meet the captain and a delegation from the German ship at a greeting ceremony on Friday.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2021

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