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Move for maritime body to prevent terror attacks

October 30, 2009

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A soldier abseils onto a ship during a national exercise in Arabian Sea near Karachi, October 29, 2009. The military exercise, codenamed Sea Spark, is conducted every two years, a Pakistan navy official said. - Photo by Reuters.

KARACHI Pakistan is considering to establish an umbrella organisation tasked to supervise all the separate maritime authorities so that no terrorist attack could be launched on a neighbouring country from its land and waters.

This was said by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Noman Bashir on the concluding day of Seaspark, a 20-day biennial military exercise involving the navy.

Speaking to journalists on board PNS Nasr, Admiral Bashir conceded the proposal gained currency following reports that Mumbai terrorist attacks had been launched from Pakistani waters.

Elaborating on the proposal, he said that Pakistan Navy would be responsible for the overall supervision of the Maritime Security Agency, Coast Guards, fisheries department, Karachi Port Trust and customs, adding that all the authorities would work in close coordination with one another.

He argued that such an organisation would minimise the chance of Pakistani soil — or waters — being used as a springboard for militant attacks.

In reply to a question, he said some counter-terrorism measures had been taken in the meantime and deployment had been reinforced in the south-eastern coastal area of India where Pakistan was coordinating with international intelligence agencies.

He said that Pakistan Navy was an integral part of the world anti-terrorism coalition, and was commanding the Combined Task Force 150.

The CTF 150 conducts maritime security operations in the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

He said the navy would conduct a major exercise with Saudi Arabia in January.

He said naval operations were being developed at the Gwadar port whose strategic importance could hardly be overemphasised.

He recalled that the navy had originally mooted the idea of the development of the Gwadar port as a trade port as well as a military port.

Earlier, Admiral Bashir witnessed the naval exercises which saw PNS Nasr, a fleet oil tanker built in the Chinese port of Dalian, provide fuel to PNS Tariq and PNS Zulfiqar. The three vessels were moving at the speed of around 12 knots when the replenishment operation took place.

Two Sea King helicopters lowered divers into the sea as navy commandos abseiled down another helicopter on to a ship in an exercise thought to simulate anti-piracy operations off the troubled Somali coast.

An Atlantic aircraft dropped depth charges. PNS Hurmat, an Agosta 70 submarine, executed an emergency diving and surfacing drill.

The chief of naval staff also performed a fleet review as mine counter-measure vessels, missile launchers, gunboats, frigates, MSA vessels and PNS Moawin sailed past PNS Nasr.