According to world maritime statistical data (2019-2020), roughly 90 percent of the global trade is carried out via the shipping industry and transferred to more than 4,000 ports worldwide, making these vital arteries responsible for handling goods worth more than $4 trillion annually
The Greater Indian Ocean Region (GICR) stretches eastward from the Horn of Africa past the Arabian Peninsula, the Iranian plateau, and the Indian sub-continent, all the way to the Indonesian archipelago and beyond, may comprise a map as iconic to the new century as Europe was to the last one’. The IOR includes 36 littoral and 11 hinterland states, making a total of 47 independent states. The region is home to some 2.6 billion inhabitants making up 40 percent of the world population. It also accounts for more than 10 percent of the global GDP. In this connection, Pakistan’s role would be vital for achieving the blue economy’s desirable development, regional maritime security, and regional connectivity. Maritime safety and diplomacy are the way forward for securing our waters, shores, blue economy, commercial interests, and AMAN-21 stands for regional Peace, security, development, and maritime diplomacy.
AMAN series of multinational exercises were started in 2007 to promote regional cooperation and stability, greater interoperability, and display united resolve against terrorism and crimes in the maritime domain, including Piracy. AMAN Exercise is one of Pakistan Navy’s mega-events held biennially to signify the commitment to making the seas safer for positive human activities by inviting regional and extra-regional navies for joint exercises. AMAN-21 was the 7th such exercise held on 11-16 February 2021 at Karachi, Pakistan. The 8th exercise will be held in 2023.
As many as 46 countries and 115 observers participated in Aman-19 naval exercises, around 11 navies, including Russia, China, U.S., U.K., Australia, Turkey, Italy, and Malaysia, participated with their warships. The event was attended by many dignitaries, ambassadors, defense attaches, and senior military and civil officials worldwide.
AMAN-21 was held in two phases: the harbor phase and the sea phase. The harbor phase comprised the International Maritime Conference, seminars, table talks, cross ships visits, calls on, and the International Band Display and Maritime Counter Terrorism Demonstration. In contrast, the sea phase included practical execution of operational plans and activities finalized during the harbor phase.
The exercise has been held with focused objectives, including enhancing interoperability with regional and extra-regional navies, thereby acting as a bridge between the regions and displaying a united resolve against terrorism and crimes in the maritime domain.
The drills involved 46 nations, including the militaries from NATO countries, Russia, Iran, Ukraine, and even observers from Switzerland, Uzbekistan, and other states that do not have their own navies. It was a mega international event and platform for promoting understanding, cooperation, and harmony, with one slogan, “Together for Peace.” Pakistan’s quest for Peace got global recognition and admiration.
It was the first time Russia participated in a joint exercise with the NATO members in ten years. The Russian and NATO naval forces last took part in joint maritime training at the Bold Monarch in 2011 off the coast of Spain.
Unfortunately, Indian tilt toward the U.S. and involvement in Asia-Pacific Alliance with the U.S., Australia, and Japan is a threat to this region. It is worth mentioning that India has not participated in Aman-21 neither SCO military exercises held last year. But India has hosted Malabar (India) Military Exercises with Quad – The U.S., Australia, and Japan last year. India lacks interest in the region and takes more interest with Quad. The participation of all regional countries, including Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, has made India more isolated in the region.
The chief guest of the event, The President of Pakistan, Dr. ArifAlvi, expressed the hope that AMAN-21 will pave the way to make the region more peaceful and secure with all stakeholders’ combined efforts. President Alvi congratulated the Pakistan Navy on hosting another successful Aman event, reaffirming its “resolve for promoting peace and security.” He also thanked the participating naval forces for “displaying their commitment to collaborative maritime security despite Covid-19 pandemic”.