Since its inception, the Pakistan Navy has upheld the sacred trust of guarding the sea frontiers and securing the maritime interests of the country with great professionalism. The contemporary competitive international order, fast pace globalization and the threats of terrorism in maritime domain require a close cooperation among the comity of nations. Keeping in view this objective, the Pakistan Navy has been conducting a multinational naval exercise AMAN since 2007. It is a grand biennial event of its kind with a growing number of participants and observers each time. The 8th edition of the five-day exercise is going to be held from February 10-14, 2023. More than 50 nations are taking part in the exercise, which would be the largest participation so far.
The objectives of exercise AMAN include projecting a positive image of Pakistan via the diplomatic aspect along with the cultural exchange which takes place during the activities. It further helps to play a role in contributing towards regional peace and stability vis-a-vis playing a key role in consolidating Pakistan Navy’s position in the regional maritime arena. The AMAN exercise also builds synergy while enhancing interoperability with regional and extra regional navies thereby acting as a bridge between the regions. Interoperability comes in the form of developing practices, responses, tactics, techniques and procedures on responding to issues pertaining to asymmetric and traditional threats in maritime domain. Along with interoperability AMAN Exercise is also a display of the united resolve against terrorism and crimes in the maritime domain.
Pakistan International Maritime Expo and Conference (PIMEC) as an event itself will also be making its debut along with AMAN-23 with an aim to explore opportunities for joint-ventures and investments in the maritime industry. The simultaneous launch of PIMEC aims to set off a new precedent as in the past such major events related to uplifting the maritime sector in the country were not held. PIMEC will also be held biennially following its landmark initiation in Feb 2023. The first phase of AMAN 23 will allow professionals of the maritime industry to come together, providing them a unique platform to share their ideas and spread general awareness on various issues being faced in the maritime sector.
As for the second phase of AMAN; Sea Phase, a series of military exercises and an International Fleet Review is conducted in which all the military assets of participating countries take part. The AMAN series of exercises has been a success story for the Pakistan Navy. It has been a reflection of Pakistan’s commitment to promote international cooperation in maritime domain and to sustain peace and security in the region and beyond. With the motto of “Together for Peace”, the exercise has a wide range of significance: From a military perspective as the event attracts navies from around the world, it offers a unique opportunity of sharing with and learning from experiences of some of the finest forces. The exercise also offers a platform where different navies could operate together under one banner – thus optimizing the interoperability. With ever growing threats of terrorism and crimes in the maritime realm, it has become inevitable for countries to work together for secure and free movement at sea – and exercising AMAN is a vital step towards that. Along with friendly navies, Pakistan Navy has conducted several rescue, anti-smuggling and counter-piracy operations in its area of responsibility.
Military is a tool of politics and likewise the Navy plays a big role in a country’s foreign policy and diplomacy. Blue diplomacy has shifted the dynamics of international politics towards seas. The exercise AMAN gives an opportunity to demonstrate Pakistan’s efforts for international peace and security. It also showcases the confidence of friendly states towards Pakistan and highlights the country’s role as a bridge between different parts of the globe. The event also provides an opportunity of people-to-people contact and cultural exchange, thus enhancing the friendly bond among nations.
Generally, the Pakistani populace is more land centric and does not realize the importance of the maritime domain and the benefits which can be reaped from it. The concept of Blue Economy is being embraced globally with many countries exploiting all the subdomains which come under it. South Korea has excelled in the shipbuilding industry, while Maldives has made the coastal tourism industry the bread and butter of its economy. Pakistan with its wealth of potential in the maritime domain can exploit all the opportunities in order to economically uplift itself. With the Pakistan International Maritime Expo and Conference under the umbrella of exercise AMAN, it gives an opportunity for experts; academia and policy makers to further explore the domain of seas. Pakistan’s maritime territory and Exclusive Economic Zone is even greater than the land area of countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka combined. There is a huge potential for the Blue Economy of the country and its importance is justifiably emphasized with mega events like AMAN.