Sea Guardians drill expected to boost security cooperation with China

KARACHI: Naval officers of Pakistan and China on Wednesday emphasised the importance of a joint exercise, saying it strengthens ties between the two forces.

This was stated by Commodore Raja Rab Nawaz of Pakistan Navy and Senior Captain Zhou Han Wen of China at a media briefing held in connection with Sea Guardians Exercise-2020. They spoke about the objectives, contours and conduct of the exercise.

Commodore Nawaz said that Pakistan is a responsible state cognisant of its role and significance.

“Pakistan has substantial stakes in the maritime domain. Our interests in the safer and crime-free seas are rooted into three conspicuous realities — extraordinary dependence on the seas for trade, operationalisation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and strategic location astride the global energy highway,” he said.

“Cumulatively, these realities make the maritime stability as the top agenda of our national security. Pakistan considers that maritime security isn’t just important for itself but for all other countries whose prosperity and progress are strongly bonded with the seas,” he said.

He said that Pakistan and China shared common understanding on various regional and international issues.

He expressed the hope that this exercise would strengthen decades-old and time-tested friendship of both countries and would also open new vistas for future cooperation and coordination in the region.

Briefing about the history of the exercise, he said that the PN-PLA(N) Bilateral Exercise Sea Guardians started in 2014 and had regularly been conducted each year alternately in Pakistan and China. During this sixth iteration of the bilateral exercises — being conducted from January 6 to 14 — frontline Destroyers, Frigates, Fast Attack Crafts along with Air and Sub-surface assets as well as Marines and Special Operations Forces from Pakistan Navy and the Peoples Liberation Army’s Southern Theater Command are participating in both the harbour and sea phases of the exercise.

Besides social gatherings, the harbour activities are designed to understand each other’s perspective and sharing of expertise in various naval domains through the conduct of seminars, table top discussions, joint training sessions and demonstrations.

The sea phase that will be conducted in the North Arabian Sea from January 10 to 13 would have basic to advance level joint tactical drills and naval manoeuvres to deal with a variety of threats at sea.

Briefing the audience, Senior Captain from PLA (Navy) Zhou Han Wen said that the main purpose of the exercise was to enhance bilateral security cooperation to develop Pak-China all-weather strategic partnership.

He also said that the exercise is aimed at enhancing capabilities of both navies to jointly deal with terrorism and crime at sea and to promote efforts for a safe maritime environment.

Published in Dawn, January 9, 2020

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