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ORMARA, March 16: The Pakistan Navy will join the US-led Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan (CMCP) next week in line with Pakistan's general policy of participating in international peacekeeping/peace enforcing efforts.

This was stated by chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Shahid Karimullah while talking to newsmen on board PNS Tipu Sultan off the coast of Ormara on Friday.

Admiral Karimullah, however, made it clear that Pakistan Navy would not participate in any blockade by the coalition against any country in the region. He added that interdiction operations within the country's territorial waters shall be conducted only by the Pakistan Navy.

He said that the PN was joining the CMCP under a UN resolution and stressed that there would be no change in routine operations and the PN assets would be available for the defence of national frontiers. The naval chief said that Pakistan had contributed forces in Somalia, Sierra Leone, East Timor etc., and joining the CMCP would augment Pakistan Navy's surveillance of its area of interest against threats to its maritime security.

It would also lead to visible sustained presence in the own area of interest, thus providing a perception of safe environment to facilitate smooth maritime economic activity. He made it clear that the areas in which Pakistan Navy would be present, others would not be there.

He said that Pakistan Navy's inclusion in the CMCP would also enhance PN's capability of quick response, besides deterring terrorists and checking arms, drugs and human smuggling. He said that human smuggling was a serious concern.

One reason for Pakistan's participation in the CMCP was to deny India any opportunity to join the arrangement in "our area of interest" and play the role it was playing in the Strait of Malacca.

Referring to Indian navy's acquisitions and future plans, that would lead to a significant force imbalance, Admiral Karimullah referred to steps being taken by Pakistan to maintain a minimum and credible conventional defence capability.

While emphasizing the need for inducting more surface ships, subs and air arm, he also referred to efforts being made to get frigates from China. In reply to a question, he said the Pakistan Navy had no objection to the Indian gas pipeline passing through shallow waters but made it clear that the PN would monitor surveys and other work to ensure that activities like spying were not carried out on the pretext of maintenance, etc.

He told a questioner that in view of the easing of sanctions the PN was hoping to get P3C Orion aircraft. He said the Atlantique aircraft obtained from France had become very old and their replacement was not available at the moment.

Earlier, Rear Admiral Iftekhar Rao, who is Deputy chief of the Naval Staff (operations), briefed the media team on the comparative strength of the Pakistan and Indian navies and the increasing imbalance between the two.