Monday, February 8, 2021

Geopolitically Important Pakistan Brings China, Russia, US Together For 45-Nation Exercises Hosted by Pak Navy

Pakistan is hosting navies from 45 nations, including the United States, China and Russia, for a joint military exercise named "AMAN 2021" in the North Arabian Sea later this month. This is the first time in a decade that Russian naval ships will attend drills with multiple NATO members. 

The news prompted Indian defense analyst Pravin Sawhney to tweet: "Pakistan Navy Aman 21 exercise brings US, China & Russian navies together - what more needs to be said of Pak’s geopolitical importance in times of change!"

Tweet by Indian Defense Analyst Pravin Sawhney


United Kingdom, Turkey, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and several countries from the African Union are also among participants of "AMAN 2021" The last time the Russian navy conducted joint military drills with NATO members was in the "Bold Monarch" exercise in 2011, which took place off the coast of Spain, according to Voice of America


US-China Compete For Influence in Pakistan



There was a lot of speculation in the western media about the objectives of Pakistan policies being pursued by China and the United States, the two great powers in Asia region, and their impact on the US-China competition for world dominance. Such speculations was centered on the debt related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the US leverage in IMF bailout of Pakistan that was approved in 2019.

American business publication Wall Street Journal has produced a short video explaining how its staff sees what it describes as "US-China conflict brewing in Pakistan". What is at stake in the battle between China and the United States in Pakistan is the prize of global superpower status. Here are the key points it made back in 2019:

1. The US-China conflict brewing in Pakistan is about global dominance sought by the two great powers.

2. If China succeeds, it could become the new center of global trade. If the US wins, it could frustrate China's push to become a global power. The impact of it will be felt around the world for decades.

3. China has already surpassed the United States as the world's biggest exporter of goods and services.

4. The biggest project in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in which China is investing heavily and providing massive loans.

5. China could use the infrastructure built in Pakistan under CPEC to gain access to the Indian Ocean and supplant the United States in Pakistan.

6. CPEC-related spending is sinking Pakistan deeper in debt to China. It could force Pakistan to seek $8 billion to $12 billion bailout by IMF where US is the biggest shareholder with veto power.

7. US does not want the IMF bailout money to be used to repay Chinese debt. Not bailing out Pakistan is not an option because it could cost US an important ally in the region.

8. US could, however, use IMF bailout to limit what Pakistan can borrow from China. Such a condition will achieve the US objective of significantly slowing down CPEC and BRI.

9. Pakistan's dilemma is that it needs both the infrastructure improvements financed by China and the IMF bailout to ease pressure on its dwindling foreign exchange reserves.

10. Whoever wins in Pakistan will become the number one global superpower.


Can US "Spend Them (Chinese) Into Oblivion"?

Here's the Wall Street Journal video:

https://youtu.be/wvw-85CC1t4




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Can Pakistan Avoid Recurring Balance of Payment Crisis?

Pakistan Economy Hobbled By Underinvestment

Pakistan's IT Exports Surging

Can Indian Economy Survive Without Western Capital Inflows?

Pakistan-China-Russia Vs India-Japan-US

Chinese Yuan to Replace US $ as Reserve Currency?

Remittances From Overseas Pakistanis

Can Imran Khan Lead Pakistan to the Next Level?

China to Expand Manufacturing in Special Economic Zones

24 comments:

Mahomed I. said...

The question is, if Russia, China and the US are on one side, who’s going to ever challenge them?

Any potential challenger will slink away in the night

Amjad M. said...

Who can potentially challenge a Trishol of these three powerhouses? Portugal, Spain, Not so Great Britain or Italy? All the has beens and Past their prime time powers.

Please excuse me of I missed it in the article but I did not see India's navy in this. Is this true?

Then that will be the odd man out

Riaz Haq said...

Mahomed: "Any potential challenger will slink away in the night"


The Naval Exercise is called "Aman" for a good reason: it amplifies Pakistan's role and image as a peacemaker among great powers China, Russia & US.

There's a history here: It was Pakistan that facilitated contact between China and the US in the 1970s that led to China's rise. The rest is history.

Riaz Haq said...

#Turkey-#Pakistan joint #military exercise begins in Tarbela with both nations' #SpecialOps participating. It includes counter-terrorism, close quarter combat, cordon & search, rappelling, fire and move techniques, helicopter rappelling, hostage rescue. http://v.aa.com.tr/2138335

A three-week-long joint military exercise involving Turkish and Pakistani special forces began in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday.

The opening ceremony of the exercise ATATURK-XI 2021 was held at the Pakistani military's Special Service headquarters in Tarbela, located in Khyber Pakhtunkwa province that borders neighboring Afghanistan, said a statement from the Pakistan Army.

Turkish Special Forces and troops of Pakistani military's elite Special Services Group are participating in the exercise.

The exercise includes, counter-terrorism, close quarter battle, cordon and search, rappelling, fire and move techniques, helicopter rappelling, compound clearance, hostage and rescue and free fall operations.

"The joint military exercise will further strengthen the bond of two brotherly nations and will help in adapting the emerging trends in military modernization and cooperation," the statement said.

Ankara and Islamabad have increased defense and military cooperation in recent years.

In July 2018, Pakistan Navy signed a contract for the acquisition of four Turkish-built MILGEM corvettes with Turkish state-owned defense contractor ASFAT. According to the plan, two corvettes will be built in Turkey and the next two will be built in Pakistan which also involves technology transfer.

In October 2019, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan along with then Pakistan Navy Chief Adm. Zafar Mahmood Abbasi had cut the first metal plate of the first MILGEM Ada class corvette during a ceremony in Istanbul.

Turkey is one of the 10 countries in the world which can build, design, and maintain warships using its national capabilities.

Riaz Haq said...

For the first time in over two decades, Pakistan is not a foreign-policy priority for a new US administration.

https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/biden-needs-a-new-pakistan-policy-this-is-what-it-should-look-like/

The United States cannot match China’s economic investment in Pakistan or in the region for that matter, but it can influence the direction Pakistan takes. That possibility is greater now than at any time in recent memory as there are significant changes to fundamentals that have long defined Pakistan’s strategic calculus.

First, the United States is no longer fixated on terrorism, which means it is no longer paying attention to Pakistan in the ways it did after the 9/11 attacks. Pakistan is keen to find new ways to engage the United States. These sentiments, exhibited at the highest levels of military and civilian leadership in Pakistan, are motivated by the pragmatic realization that the country can no longer take US interest for granted as the United States shrinks its presence in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has offered a new approach based on economic security that seeks collaboration with the United States on climate change, technology, and a host of other non-security issues. Translating this new approach into a reality is going to take a lot of work, as Pakistan falls short in keeping its own economic house in order.

This is related to the second fundamental change: the economy. Dwindling foreign aid, dips in labor remittances owing to the collapse of Gulf Cooperation Council economies, and decreases in Pakistan’s textile and manufacturing exports have put the country in dire straits. Pakistan has long borrowed to finance existing debt. That is no longer possible, and payments on its short- to medium-term debts are converging. Pakistan needs international assistance, preferably via loans and economic aid, and it must grow its exports to boost its economy. The United States should take note that under these circumstances Pakistan will be more open to policy compromises that could provide relief on these fronts.

Third, Saudi Arabia no longer serves as Pakistan’s strategic depth. After nearly five decades of close ties, Saudi Arabia is decisively distancing itself from Pakistan. Last year it canceled a three-billion-dollar loan after Islamabad complained about lack of Saudi support for Pakistan over Indian suppression in Kashmir.

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Fifth, the paradigm for India-Pakistan relations is changing. With Saudi Arabia, China, and the United States de-linking conflict between India and Pakistan from their respective relationships with those countries, Pakistan is being forced to reevaluate how it engages its traditional partners on the defining feature of its foreign relations with many countries: competition with India.

The cumulative effect of these five developments has been to unmoor Pakistan’s strategic calculus, leaving the country somewhat adrift and unsure of its standing and future direction. The changes introduce serious questions for policymakers. For example, what will the end of an Islamic foreign-policy paradigm mean for Pakistan-based militancy, which has long enjoyed the patronage of financiers based in Persian Gulf states? What will the distancing of China and Saudi Arabia from India-Pakistan tensions mean when the two neighbors come to the brink of nuclear war?

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Pakistan’s trade agreement with China, for example, makes it an ideal re-exporting hub. US companies can build manufacturing facilities in Pakistan and add value to American goods there, enabling those goods to access the Chinese market as Pakistani exports. There is also room for the United States to engage Pakistan’s private sector in Afghanistan. Already Pakistani construction and consumer-goods companies are looking to take advantage of a peace dividend in Afghanistan. Islamabad is also hoping to export food and agricultural goods across the border. Investment and trade can anchor relations between the United States and Pakistan in economics.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan successfully test fires #BaburIA surface-to-surface #CruiseMissile from a multi-tube launcher. Train-hugging, radar-evading, low-flying Babur 1A is capable of hitting land & sea targets with “high precision” up to 490 km (about 280 miles) away. https://www.khon2.com/international/pakistan-successfully-test-fires-surface-to-surface-missile/

Pakistan’s military on Thursday successfully test-fired a short range surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of hitting land and sea targets with “high precision” up to 490 kilometers (about 280 miles) away, the military said.

In a statement, it said the Babur cruise missile was “launched from a state-of-the-art Multi Tube Missile Launch Vehicle.”

According to the statement, Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and the country’s military leadership congratulated scientists and engineers over successful launch of the missile.

Pakistan’s nuclear and missile program is primarily aimed at countering threats from neighboring India, which also routinely conducts missile tests.

Both nations have nuclear arms and have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947. The disputed Himalayan region is split between them and claimed by both.

Riaz Haq said...

India, US: Drifting apart? #US readout of #Biden-#Modi call refers to “working together… through the Quad,” #Indian readout makes no mention of Quad, suggesting that #NewDelhi's reluctance to joining hands with Washington to take on #China.
https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/second-edit/india-us-drifting-apart-950593.html @deccanherald

Statements issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the White House on the recent conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden provide an early warning of issues that could become irritants, or worse, in the bilateral relationship in the coming months. Both statements highlighted convergence on a rule-based global order, a free and open Indo-Pacific and shared commitment to democratic values. Convergence on these issues suggests that there is ampl…

The White House statement highlights Biden’s “desire to defend democratic institutions and norms around the world.” In the past, India may have echoed this desire or brushed it aside as mere lofty rhetoric that is often expressed in summit statements...That it finds no mention in the MEA statement is telling. Read alongside recent US reactions to developments in India, Biden’s interest in defending democratic norms abroad is not something that pleases the Modi government, given the perception among...

Riaz Haq said...

The #Farmersprotests Are a Turning Point for #India’s #democracy but #US sees India as an important counterweight to #China . | Time

https://time.com/5938041/india-farmer-protests-democracy/

For decades, the world has turned a blind eye to India’s abysmal human rights record. This approach draws from a broad perception of India as a strategic ally.

For one, the United States, like much of the global community, sees India as an important counterweight to China. They are the two most populous nations and the fastest growing trillion-dollar economies in the world. Global powers tend to prefer India because of its standing as the world’s largest democracy. At the same time, India’s adversarial relationship with neighboring Pakistan, as well as its increasingly anti-Muslim policies, position it as a bulwark against “Islamic terrorism.”

These two bogeymen—Chinese imperialism and Islamic terrorism—are the specters that have given India a free pass.

Over the past few years, however, the rise of right-wing authoritarianism has brought India’s democratic standing into question. India has plummeted in democracy metrics across the board, including the Press Freedom Index, where it now ranks 142 of 180 countries, four spots behind South Sudan and three behind Myanmar. The Human Freedom Index ranks India at 111 of 162 countries, just four ahead of Russia. This past September human rights group Amnesty International ceased operations in India following sustained assaults from the Indian government.

The full force and authoritarian tactics of the Indian government have been showcased as they respond to the largest protest in their history. Since September, tens of thousands of Indian have gathered in New Delhi to protest three new agricultural laws that aim to deregulate India’s agricultural industry and open it up to free-market forces. While the need for reforms is urgent, farmers are concerned that the new legislation privileges corporations and harms the everyday farmer. Finally, on Feb. 2, after months of protests, the world’s eyes started to focus on the Indian government’s undemocratic measures, including press censorship, journalist detention, internet shutdowns, and violent crackdowns against the non-violent protestors.

Hindu nationalists have used the occasion to call for genocidal violence against protestors. Twitter removed a tweet from Indian actress Kangana Ranaut that advocated ethnic cleansing of the protestors. Twitter also suspended 500 accounts that called for a repeat of the 1984 pogroms, a dark moment in India’s history.

These calls refer to a period of Indian history reminiscent of what’s happening today. In the 1970s and 1980s, Punjabi Sikhs led similar agitations that called for better government support of agriculture. Their sustained protests along with a self-determination movement drew the ire of the Indian government, which painted the efforts as anti-national. Following a disinformation campaign, the government launched a series of attacks that resulted in mass atrocities and egregious human rights abuses: the military assault on Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) of Amritsar in June of 1984, the state-sponsored pogroms in November of 1984 following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards, and, in the decade that followed, a campaign of extra-judicial killings that resulted in tens of thousands of civilian deaths. The government of India has never acknowledged or apologized for this spree of violence, and it remains a visceral memory for many Indians, especially Punjabi Sikhs today.

Understanding the state violence in Punjab during the 1980s helps us see the grievances that Punjabi farmers have with the central government. It also shows how the Indian state deploys and enacts violence against its own citizens, and, perhaps most crucially, anticipates what might happen in India today if the Indian government is not held accountable for its current undemocratic actions.

Riaz Haq said...

#China’s PLA destroyer flotilla joins 45-nation #navy drills in #Pakistan with #US, #Russian navies. #Aman21 #military exercises will be in 2 phases: Harbor phase and Sea phase - Global Times

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202102/1215559.shtml

A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy flotilla led by a Type 052D destroyer on Thursday started participating in a multinational exercise in Pakistan, a unique platform experts said that provides opportunities for Chinese and Russian navies to come together with their counterparts from the US and other Western countries.

Invited by the Pakistan Navy, the PLA Navy 119 Flotilla arrived in waters close to Karachi, Pakistan on Thursday to participate in the multinational exercise AMAN-21, after the flotilla wrapped up its escort mission in the Gulf of Aden, the PLA Daily reported on Friday.

The 119 Flotilla, led by the Type 052D guided missile destroyer Guiyang and consisted of also the Type 054A guided missile frigate Zaozhuang and the Type 903A comprehensive supplement ship Dongpinghu, was the 36th escort task force to the Gulf of Aden setting out from Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province on September 3, 2020, and completed a handover ceremony to the 37th escort task force on January 31 in the Gulf of Aden after completing 38 escort missions on 52 ships around the region, the PLA Navy announced in a statement released on February 1.

The Global Times learned from the Pakistan Navy on Friday that the AMAN-21 exercise is scheduled in two phases: the harbor phase and the sea phase. The harbor phase will comprise of the International Maritime Conference, seminars, table talks, cross ships visits, calls on and the International Band Display and Maritime Counter Terrorism Demonstration, while the sea phase includes practical execution of operational plans and activities finalized during the harbor phase.

The exercise has been planned with focused objectives, which include enhancing interoperability with regional and extra-regional navies thereby acting as a bridge between the regions, and the display of united resolve against terrorism and crimes in the maritime domain, according to the Pakistan Navy.

Naval forces from more than 40 countries, including those from Russia, and the US as well as some other NATO countries will also participate in the exercise, foreign media reported.

This is the eighth time the PLA Navy has participated in the Pakistan Navy-initiated AMAN series multinational exercises, which aim at enhancing professional communication and friendly interactions with other navies, the PLA Daily said.

The drill comes after increased military tensions between China and the US in regions like the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and former US president Donald Trump's play of military cards on China, and it also marks the first known time China and the US have been in the same military exercise since US President Joe Biden assumed office in January, a Chinese military expert who asked to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Friday.

In November 2020, the Chinese and US militaries held a three-day online seminar on humanitarian assistance and disaster reduction, and this time the two militaries can get the chance to operate together, get to know each other better and build up mutual trust, when misunderstanding was on the rise over the past few months, the expert said.

It is also a rare occasion in which Russia joins an exercise together with NATO countries, analysts said.

The exercise this time is unique in a sense that it provides an opportunity to navies from China, Russia and the US and other Western navies to come under one platform, an officer from the Pakistan Navy told the Global Times on Friday on the condition of anonymity.

Riaz Haq said...

According to the document, China sees India’s strategic thought as having developed in multiple stages after Independence.

by Shekhar Gupta

https://theprint.in/opinion/how-does-pla-see-indias-strategic-ambitions-chinese-military-document-holds-clues/604518/


The Chinese paper notes that there are four inter-woven characteristics to India’s strategic thought. It says India has a strong geopolitical core since the nation believes it’s the heart of Asia, and its region of influence is South Asia. The paper also says Pakistan and China are India’s biggest obstacles in achieving its geopolitical goals.

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According to the Chinese, India laid major emphasis on building its economy rather than defence. However, since Pakistan remained a threat, there was limited offence but increased deployment on the Western front, and movement to the northern frontiers along Tibet, which, from the Chinese perspective, is south of the McMahon line.


“Essentially, what that means is that India asserted control over new regions of Arunachal Pradesh, or what the Chinese call South Tibet. But I suspect this is also an oblique reference to the fact that it was in this period that India went up to Tawang and asserted control,” said Gupta. By 1958, according to the Chinese, India gained control over all contested areas near the India-China border.

Between 1960 and 70, the paper says India’s strategy focused on expansion on two fronts, especially after the 1962 war, when the country started building its military power. In 1964, it started a defence modernisation plan with the first defence five-year-plan, pegged at Rs 5,000 crore. The paper says this led to two things — it gave India greater strength for its operations in the West, and provided in-depth defence against China.

In the next two decades, between 1970 and the late 1980s, the paper notes, India’s objective was to maintain land and control the sea. According to it, India had contained Pakistan at this point and its focus shifted towards gaining control over the sea, particularly the northern part of the Indian Ocean. India started focusing on building its Navy to gain power in South Asia.

In the 90s, the focus shifted from regional offence to regional deterrence. By this time, the paper says, the traditional view of annihilatory war had changed. So, India tried to build influence in an entire region on the back of a strategy of regional deterrence, from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, from Iran in the West to Myanmar in the East.

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Indo-centricism has been identified as another objective, one the Chinese think India has inherited from the British. India considers itself the heart of the continent, and regions at its peripheries, including Kashmir, Assam, Bangladesh, Sikkim and Bhutan, are its internal line of defence. The country also wants Tibet as a buffer zone with China. The paper says India relies on the Chanakyan philosophy, dealing with peripheral nations as rivals and regions that are far off as friends.

According to China, India wants to dominate South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region, and rise as a first rate world power for which a strong but limited offensive is needed. The paper also says India has been ‘nibbling’ away at Chinese territory in the meantime.

“Chinese say this ‘nibbling’ has been done rather carefully, to turn defence into offence during war time,” Gupta said.

Finally, the paper says, India’s strategic thought emphasises deterrence in all directions. This analysis breaks India’s deterrence strategy into two distinct halves — ambition for dominance and ambition for deterrence.

“India knows that its military power is limited, so for the second one, India has reached out to countries like the US and Japan, and improved its relations to get more people into the tent… you can see that the Chinese scholars had foreseen the coming up of the Quad in 2013,” Gupta said.

Riaz Haq said...

#PakistanArmy conducts tactical drills in Thar Desert in #Sindh, close to the #Indian border. Troops of #Karachi Corps are participating in the four-week long ‘Jidar-ul- Hadeed’ exercise in extreme desert conditions. #Pakistan #military https://tribune.com.pk/story/2283911/pakistan-army-conducts-tactical-drills-in-thar-desert

Troops of Pakistan Army’s Karachi Corps are practicing in tactical drills and procedures as part of exercise “Jidar-ul- Hadeed” in Thar Desert that commenced on January 28, 2021, said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement issued on Saturday.

The military’s media wing said the four-week long defensive manoeuvre exercise is aimed at validating concept of defence in deserts.

“The exercise is being conducted in extreme desert conditions, 74 kilometers ahead of Chhor, under conventional operations setting, culminating on February 28, 2021,” read the statement.

On Friday, a week-long multinational naval exercise hosted by Pakistan started in the Arabian Sea, a move that could set the tone for its enhanced bilateral relations with many countries.

With the participation of some 45 countries in Aman-2021 from February 11-16, including the US, Russia, China, and Turkey, the drill – a biannual affair since 2007 – began with a flag-raising ceremony.

Significantly, this is the first time Russia has joined a military drill with NATO members in a decade. The last such time was in 2011, in the Bold Monarch 2011 exercise off the coast of Spain.

Riaz Haq said...

"Democracy” is the one word that gets thrown around a lot when #India and #America talk about their relationship.
How Long Will #Biden Pretend #Modi's India Is a “Democratic” Ally Against “Authoritarian” #China? #democracy #geopolitics | Time

https://time.com/5939510/joe-biden-india-democracy/

“Democracy” is the one word that gets thrown around a lot when India and America talk about their relationship. Democracy forms the basis of the “shared values” and the “common bond” between the “natural partners”—all phrases that invariably pop up in the communiques of their engagement. The “world’s oldest democracy” and the “world’s largest democracy” won’t let the world forget why they’re in it together.

And, so it was when President Joe Biden spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the phone Feb. 8 for the first time since the new U.S. Administration took power. Only, the new American President seemed to think that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to remind India of the two nations’ common bond, as well. “The President underscored his desire to defend democratic institutions and norms around the world and noted that a shared commitment to democratic values is the bedrock for the US-India relationship,” said a White House statement on the meeting.

The U.S. would like to see India as an ideological and strategic counter to China’s rise, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to overlook India’s fast-declining democratic standards. The daily assaults on civil liberties and the threats to India’s Muslim minority under Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have noticeably increased since Modi’s re-election in 2019. Hate speech is rife, peaceful dissent is criminalized, freedom of expression and association faces new constraints, and the jails are filling up with political prisoners and peaceful dissenters as a servile judiciary looks away.

On Sunday, Disha Ravi, a 21-year-old climate activist, was arrested for the allegedly seditious act of sharing and editing a Google document for activists supporting the ongoing farmers’ protest. Warrants are out against more activists for the same “conspiracy.” Earlier this month, India slipped two more places to 53rd in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index—from 27th place in 2014. Sweden’s V-Dem Institute now lists India among the top 10 countries most quickly becoming autocracies, adding that it is “on the verge of losing its status as a democracy due to the severely shrinking of space for the media, civil society and the opposition.”

Riaz Haq said...

U.S.-Pakistan Relations in the Biden Era
ELAINE PASQUINI WAGING PEACE

The Biden administration should not focus on Pakistan only through the lens of Afghanistan, Yusuf stressed. “We are available to facilitate peace in Afghanistan and ultimately we do not want any violence or terrorism in our region,” he said. However, when trouble arises in Afghanistan, Pakistan should not be blamed as the “reason for all evils,” he stressed. “That is the old conversation that we have to get away from if we want a real relationship that’s a broader relationship that really can benefit both sides.”

https://www.wrmea.org/waging-peace/u.s.-pakistan-relations-in-the-biden-era.html

Yusuf said the Biden administration should be prepared to primarily engage Prime Minister Imran Khan on economic issues, rather than security concerns. “Pakistan is squarely in an economic security paradigm now,” he explained. “It is talking about its geo-economic location, not a geo-strategic location. We are talking about ourselves as a geo-economic melting pot that is ready to consolidate global positive economic interests in our territory...and providing the world with economic bases, not military bases. This is where we are going. We’re not 100 percent there, but it is a very different approach than in the past.”

Given this reality, Yusuf believes investment partnerships should be the first topic of discussion between Washington and Islamabad. “The conversation about CPEC [the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor infrastructure project] is not always positive in Washington,” he said. But he emphasized that the U.S. should not feel threatened by Pakistan’s economic cooperation with China. “How about an American reprocessing zone?” he asked. “How about American companies coming, investing money, reprocessing for export? How about doing things economically where there can be Pakistan-U.S.-China co-investment?”

Yusuf also pointed out areas of shared interests, including climate change, energy, agriculture and infrastructure development. “Why can’t we all co-invest in Pakistan and Afghanistan?” he asked. “That is the approach we should be thinking of. There definitely should be conversations.”

Turning to India, which is a constant topic of conversation between the U.S. and Pakistan, Yusuf said, “Today, you are dealing with an India that is vocally and publicly talking about unilateral decisions to resolve problems, including the illegally occupied territory of Kashmir….One of the longest-standing U.N. disputes is Jammu Kashmir, illegally occupied by India,” he said. “We have seen what has happened there in the last two years. I have asked for normalization, human rights and following international law as a resolution.”

Pakistan also has a very clear principled stand on Palestine, Yusuf stated, “which is identical to its stance on Kashmir: obey international law, give people the rights that international law has given them, and, in Palestine’s case, it is a respectable two-state solution. Move away from that and Pakistan will not be on board. The prime minister of Pakistan has made it absolutely clear where we stand.”

In conclusion, Yusuf pointed out that Pakistan “is totally 100 percent open to improving relations with the U.S. and moving forward on a very new agenda. We expect the same from the other side and I am sure that the new administration is already thinking along these lines…and recognizes the importance of Pakistan.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Africa-#China Ties 2021: “China still addresses Africa’s hunger for structural transformation in a way that the West does not....Any African country with urgent need for new roads, bridges or ports, then Chinese finance and firms are the obvious option" https://www.economist.com/the-world-ahead/2020/11/17/african-countries-will-remain-best-friends-with-china

VERY THREE years African and Chinese politicians gather at a diplomatic jamboree known as the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC). The summits, which attract more African heads of state than annual UN gatherings, are waypoints in China’s long journey on the continent. Over the past three decades it has become the pre-eminent partner for many African countries. Its importance will be apparent again in 2021 at the next FOCAC meeting, the eighth, which is due to take place in Dakar, the capital of Senegal.

Yet the context for this summit is different from that of the previous seven. During the Trump presidency China’s role in Africa came in for increasing American criticism. In 2020 the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, accused China of offering African countries little but “empty promises and tired platitudes”. Though the Biden administration is less likely to use provocative rhetoric, scepticism of Chinese intentions on the continent will nevertheless endure. So the coming year could prove a tricky one for African policymakers, who are already grappling with the fallout from the pandemic.

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China’s image in Africa was tarnished last year by the ill-treatment of African migrants in Guangzhou, a port city. That brought condemnation on social media and by African politicians. But, broadly speaking, African views of China are nuanced and resilient. Polling of 18 countries by Afrobarometer, a pan-African research group, released in September 2020, found that an average of 59% of respondents had a favourable view of China—marginally higher than of America (58%). No wonder African politicians are careful not to take sides.

Nor will they see much benefit in speaking out against China over issues such as Xinjiang, Hong Kong or Taiwan. China places great value on the 54 African countries’ votes at the UN and other international organisations. (In 1971 African votes ensured that the People’s Republic of China was admitted to the UN and that Taiwan was expelled.) It will reward those who vote with it and punish those who do not. Officials in Kenya are known to have studied China’s punitive response to Australian criticism of its human-rights records—and fear what would happen if their country did anything similar.

Even if African politicians wanted to speak out against China, few believe Western governments would support them if they did. “The West is unwilling to underwrite the cost of antagonising China,” says W. Gyude Moore, a former cabinet minister in Liberia, now at the Centre for Global Development, a think-tank. “The continent is best served by charting its own course.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan to develop blue economy. Sees huge potential of the #maritime domain, where all other sectors of #economy crisscross. Unveils new #shipping policy of incentives for #investment in the maritime sector. #Karachi #Gwadar #CPEC #AMAN2021ASuccess https://www.dawn.com/news/1607623


KARACHI: The three-day International Maritime Conference (IMC-21) organised on the theme of ‘Development of Blue Economy under a Secure and Sustainable Environment: A Shared Future for Western Indian Ocean Region’ by the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA) under the auspices of Pakistan Navy culminated here on Monday.

Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi was the chief guest at the closing ceremony, says a Pakistan Navy press release.

The conference included an array of prominent speakers who delivered addresses during the event presenting their thoughts on the theme.

Addressing the audience, the chief guest said the government was cognizant of the importance of blue economy and taking all possible measures for its development.


Three-day International Maritime Conference concludes with more speeches on the theme

He underscored the huge potential of the maritime domain, where all other sectors of economy crisscross and also underlined that unveiling of the new shipping policy offered tangible benefits for investment in the maritime sector.

The chief guest said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was rightfully considered a game-changer not only for Pakistan but for the economic development and prosperity of the entire region.

The foreign minister praised Pakistan Navy for promoting maritime awareness in the country, spearheading efforts for the development of blue economy and taking various initiatives to ensure peace and order at sea individually and in collaboration with regional and extra-regional navies.

He also commended NIMA for attracting a large number of intellectuals from around the globe and making the conference a success.

Earlier, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi in his closing remarks thanked all the speakers, panellists and participants who travelled from far and wide or participated virtually to add great value to the conference.

The naval chief emphasised the great potential and prospects of the Western Indian Ocean region for regional integration, inclusive development and international cooperation.

The admiral also praised efforts of NIMA for the successful conduct of the event.

The last day of the IMC comprised two sessions. During the first session, Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj GuI was the chief guest.

Eminent scholars deliberated on ocean governance, policies and laws.

Chairman of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology, UK, Capt Muhammad Shafique explicated the blue economy paradigm in the light of the IMO and UN bodies. Later, director of Maritime Research, World Maritime University, Sweden, Dr Aykut I. Olcer, in an online talk extended his views regarding importance of decarburisation of international shipping for a sustainable planet.

The last speaker of the session was regional head Sindh and Balochistan WWF-Pakistan Dr Tahir Rasheed, who underscored blue growth strategy, opportunities for socio-economic development for coastal communities.

In the third and last session, ZERI CEO Gunter Puli presented his views online on ‘Blue Growth Strategy for the Future World’.

Later, another important address was delivered by retired vice admiral Iftikhar Ahmed Rao, emphasising blue economy.

At the closing of the conference, on behalf of NIMA Director General retired vice admiral Abdul Aleem, director of NIMA Karachi Commodore retired Ali Abbas integrated the conference proceedings and presented recommendations.

The conference was attended by a large number of dignitaries from across the globe, officers from defence forces of Pakistan and friendly countries, academia, media representatives and researchers from local and international think tanks.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan says "#India's belligerent and aggressive policies – currently driven by an extremist #Hindutva ideology – pose an immediate and pervasive threat to international & regional peace and security” in the #Indian Ocean Region. #AmanExercise2021 https://aje.io/x8bkh

Pakistan’s foreign minister has accused eastern neighbour India of adopting “belligerent and aggressive policies” to raise the chances of conflict in the Indian Ocean, the Pakistani state news agency reported.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi also discussed concerns about India’s acquisition of advanced naval weapons technology from Western partners and through domestic development in his comments to the Ninth International Maritime Conference in the Pakistani port city of Karachi on Monday.

“India’s belligerent and aggressive policies – currently driven by an extremist Hindutva ideology – pose an immediate and pervasive threat to international and regional peace and security,” he said, as quoted by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) news service.

“Pakistan will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure its security and to maintain credible minimum deterrence,” he said.

India and Pakistan have fought three full-scale wars and several minor conflicts since they gained independence from the British in 1947.

In 2016, India changed the balance of naval power in the region by announcing that it had formally commissioned the INS Arihant, a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.

The Arihant was the first ballistic missile submarine to be built domestically by a country other than the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

India also operates a second nuclear submarine, the INS Chakra II, which is a Russian Akula-class submarine acquired on a 10-year lease in 2012. A third nuclear submarine, the INS Arighat, is currently under construction.
Analysts say that while the Indian armament build-up may pose a threat to Pakistan, it should also be seen as part of the country taking an increasing role in regional security as part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue group, which includes the United States, India, Japan and Australia and is aimed at countering China’s increasing military power in the Indo-Pacific region.

“There has been a build-up, and it seems to be mostly against China, but certainly it has created some kind of apprehension in the region as well, due to this constant buildup in this area, not just by India but also by the Americans,” said Zahid Hussain, an Islamabad-based security analyst.

Aman ’21
The Ninth International Maritime Conference is being hosted by Pakistan as part of the Aman ’21 Naval Exercise.


Aman ’21 has seen naval personnel from more than 40 countries take part in a series of manoeuvres and exercises “aimed at practicing operational drills and manoeuvres countering non-traditional threats”, according to a Pakistani military statement.

The exercise, organised every two years by the Pakistani navy, is aimed primarily at increasing cooperation between navies involved in anti-piracy and anti-crime operations in the Indian Ocean.

Among those participating are the US, Russia, the United Kingdom, China and Turkey. The exercise marks the first time in almost a decade that Russian forces are taking part in military exercises with multiple NATO members.

The exercise is “dedicated to strengthening and developing military cooperation between the countries participating in the manoeuvers in the interests of security and stability at sea, as well as sharing experience in countering the threats of maritime piracy in areas of heavy shipping and conducting search and rescue operations at sea”, said a Russian defence ministry statement.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has concluded hosting a six-day multinational naval exercise in the Arabian Sea. Around 45 countries took part in the AMAN-2021 drills, which ended on February 16. The US, China, Russia and the UK were among the countries taking part in the exercise, which was designed to foster international cooperation to combat piracy, terrorism and criminal activities at sea. It was the first time in 10 years that Russian naval ships had taken part in drills with multiple Nato members.

https://www.scmp.com/video/asia/3122027/pakistan-hosts-joint-naval-drills-including-us-china-and-russia

Riaz Haq said...

The #Chinese ‘Debt Trap’ Is a Myth. #SriLankan Writer Michael Ondaatje says “In Sri Lanka a well-told lie is worth a thousand facts.” And the debt-trap narrative is just that: a lie, and a powerful one. #Hambantota #CPEC #SriLanka #Pakistan #China https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2021/02/china-debt-trap-diplomacy/617953/

Seen this way, China’s internationalization—as laid out in programs such as the Belt and Road Initiative—is not simply a pursuit of geopolitical influence but also, in some tellings, a weapon. Once a country is weighed down by Chinese loans, like a hapless gambler who borrows from the Mafia, it is Beijing’s puppet and in danger of losing a limb.

The prime example of this is the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota. As the story goes, Beijing pushed Sri Lanka into borrowing money from Chinese banks to pay for the project, which had no prospect of commercial success. Onerous terms and feeble revenues eventually pushed Sri Lanka into default, at which point Beijing demanded the port as collateral, forcing the Sri Lankan government to surrender control to a Chinese firm.

The Trump administration pointed to Hambantota to warn of China’s strategic use of debt: In 2018, former Vice President Mike Pence called it “debt-trap diplomacy”—a phrase he used through the last days of the administration—and evidence of China’s military ambitions. Last year, erstwhile Attorney General William Barr raised the case to argue that Beijing is “loading poor countries up with debt, refusing to renegotiate terms, and then taking control of the infrastructure itself.”

As Michael Ondaatje, one of Sri Lanka’s greatest chroniclers, once said, “In Sri Lanka a well-told lie is worth a thousand facts.” And the debt-trap narrative is just that: a lie, and a powerful one.

Our research shows that Chinese banks are willing to restructure the terms of existing loans and have never actually seized an asset from any country, much less the port of Hambantota. A Chinese company’s acquisition of a majority stake in the port was a cautionary tale, but it’s not the one we’ve often heard. With a new administration in Washington, the truth about the widely, perhaps willfully, misunderstood case of Hambantota Port is long overdue.

The city of Hambantota lies at the southern tip of Sri Lanka, a few nautical miles from the busy Indian Ocean shipping lane that accounts for nearly all of the ocean-borne trade between Asia and Europe, and more than 80 percent of ocean-borne global trade. When a Chinese firm snagged the contract to build the city’s port, it was stepping into an ongoing Western competition, though one the United States had largely abandoned.

It was the Canadian International Development Agency—not China—that financed Canada’s leading engineering and construction firm, SNC-Lavalin, to carry out a feasibility study for the port. We obtained more than 1,000 pages of documents detailing this effort through a Freedom of Information Act request. The study, concluded in 2003, confirmed that building the port at Hambantota was feasible, and supporting documents show that the Canadians’ greatest fear was losing the project to European competitors. SNC-Lavalin recommended that it be undertaken through a joint-venture agreement between the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and a “private consortium” on a build-own-operate-transfer basis, a type of project in which a single company receives a contract to undertake all the steps required to get such a port up and running, and then gets to operate it when it is.

The Canadian project failed to move forward, mostly because of the vicissitudes of Sri Lankan politics. But the plan to build a port in Hambantota gained traction during the rule of the Rajapaksas—Mahinda Rajapaksa, who served as president from 2005 through 2015, and his brother Gotabaya, the current president and former minister of defense—who grew up in Hambantota. They promised to bring big ships to the region, a call that gained urgency after the devastating 2004 tsunami pulverized Sri Lanka’s coast and the local economy.

Riaz Haq said...

As #US plays off #India & #China, it risks losing #nuclear-armed #Pakistan. Pakistan is nervous about the impact closer ties between #Delhi & #Washington will have on its ability to defend itself against India. #Biden #Modi #ImranKhan #CPEC https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3122426/us-plays-india-and-china-it-risks-losing-nuclear-armed-ally?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=share_widget&utm_campaign=3122426 via @scmpnews

A month after Joe Biden assumed the US presidency, Pakistan is increasingly concerned that the direction of its future relationship with the United States could be determined by Washington’s competition with China and the role that neighbouring nemesis India might play in it.
Since assuming power on January 20, Biden’s administration has placed great emphasis on strengthening the role of the Quadrilateral Alliance comprising the US and its key allies in the Indo-Pacific geopolitical theatre: Japan, Australia and India.
Building a “stronger regional architecture” under the umbrella of the Quad to counter China’s expanding role in the Indo-Pacific has figured prominently in US government readouts about recent conversations between the US secretaries of state and defence and their Indian counterparts, as well as for Biden’s video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 8.
As China’s close ally and India’s historical enemy, “Islamabad will want to avoid getting in the crosshairs of US-China competition”, said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistan ambassador to the US, United Nations and Britain. “And while it seeks an improved relationship with the US, it is obvious to Islamabad that Pakistan’s strategic future lies with China.”

On the other hand, Pakistan has lost the priority billing in US foreign policy for the first time since the September 11 al-Qaeda attacks because the war on terrorism no longer drives Washington’s international agenda.

With the US withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan and war zones in the Middle East, it has been supplanted by great power competition with China and Russia.
Pakistan has felt the impact of this policy shift since 2018, when the Donald Trump administration imposed punitive tariffs on Beijing and launched a diplomatic campaign against the Belt and Road Initiative.

Moeed Yusuf, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s national security adviser, has repeatedly voiced Pakistan’s discomfort at being portrayed as a spoiler by the US as it seeks to persuade India to abandon its traditional foreign policy of non-alignment and join forces against China.
“Pakistan wants bilateral US-Pak relations that are not clouded by hyphenating the relationship with US policy towards other countries in the region,” Yusuf said in a speech in Islamabad on January 22.
Islamabad has been under pressure from the US to cut down the scale of the estimated US$60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Riaz Haq said...

Will the Sudden #EU-#China Deal Damage Relations With #Biden as #Europe pursues “strategic autonomy"? Will there be lasting bitterness and distrust engendered by the #Trump presidency. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/06/world/europe/eu-china-deal-biden.html?smid=tw-share

Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution said that damage had been done by European officials’ describing the deal as part of their pursuit of “strategic autonomy,” a policy pushed by President Emmanuel Macron of France that annoys many American policymakers.

The paradox of the Biden election, said François Heisbourg, a French security analyst, is that the European debate on strategic autonomy “no longer hinges around the craziness of Trump, but around the uncertainties of where the United States is going and the certainty of China.”

But the way this deal was done, he said, “in the quiet of late December and with a minimum of discussion, looks like it was done on the sly, in an underhand manner, and it stinks.”


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“The last four years of Trump have left a stain, on Germany and Merkel especially,” Mr. Le Corre said. “There is huge disappointment and some unknowns about Biden, and the 74 million who voted for Trump shows the situation in the U.S. is far from settled,” he said. “So the Chinese said, ‘Grab it if you can’ at the end of her presidency.”

Although the text of the deal has not yet been published, there are some concessions to European business similar to those Mr. Trump got in his own Phase One deal with China, Mr. Le Corre said.

Whether those Chinese commitments will be kept is an open question, as is whether the E.U. deal will be ratified over the next year by the European Parliament, given its outrage over human-rights violations, including Wednesday’s arrests of dozens of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.

---------------

The deal will feed those in the Biden camp who believe that the Europeans are self-interested and cannot be truly reliable partners, Mr. Wright said. “Some are skeptical that Europe and especially Germany will deliver, while some think, ‘Let’s go all in with them and there’s a good chance they will deliver.’ But this tilts that argument.”

German officials explain that Europe was simply closing a long deal when China finally moved on longstanding issues, Ms. Schwarzer said. “That’s true. But it was also a choice to do it now, before Biden comes in, and it’s puzzling why this was seen as strategically smart.”

“The trans-Atlantic angle was not honestly debated,” she said, “and for trans-Atlantic relations, this will stay as a bitter taste for Biden.”

Riaz Haq said...

#SIPRI: #India is the world’s second-largest arms importer after #SaudiArabia in 2015-19. #Egypt is no 3, #Australia no 4 and #China no 5. #Russia is the largest arms supplier to India. #Pakistan ranks 10th in the world. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/arms-imports-from-russia-decreased-in-2015-19-due-to-drop-in-india-sales-report-11583772984894.html

The report by SIPRI, a think tank, says India’s arms imports from both Russia and the US fell during the five-year period, though the decline was more pronounced in the case of Russian arms deals

India remained the world’s second largest arms importer during the period 2015-19, with Russia being the largest supplier though Moscow’s share of the Indian weapons market declined from 72% to 56%, a leading think tank that tracks arms transfers said in its annual report on Monday.

In its annual “Trends in international arms transfers 2019" report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) listed the world’s top five arms importers during the five-year period as Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Australia and China. Together, the five accounted for 36% of all arms imports, the report said.

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1. Saudi Arabia
2. India
3. Egypt
4. Australia
5. China
6. Algeria
7. South Korea
8. Qatar
9. UAE
10. Pakistan

https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2021/international-arms-transfers-level-after-years-sharp-growth-middle-eastern-arms-imports-grow-most

Riaz Haq said...

Saudi Air Force jets arrive in Pakistan for multinational air exercise
US Air Force will also participate, Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain will attend as observers

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/saudi-air-force-jets-arrive-in-pakistan-for-multinational-air-exercise-1.78166680

A Saudi Royal Air Force (RSAF) contingent arrived in Pakistan on Saturday to participate in the two-week-long multinational air exercise called ‘Aces Meet 2021-1’.

The Saudi Air Force team arrived at Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) Mushaf airbase with a number of RSAF’s Tornado combat aircraft and air, technical and support crew.

The United States Air Force (USAF) will also participate with their aircraft in the exercise along with PAF and RSAF while Jordan, Egypt and Bahrain air forces will attend as observers. Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 and JF-17 fighter jets and Saudi Air Force’s Tornado aircraft will take part in the exercise.

PAF’s Aces exercise
Aces Meet 2021-1 exercise aims to maximize the combat readiness of participating units by providing them realistic, multi-domain training and to build partnerships and interoperability among allies. “The exercise is aimed at sharing experiences and enhancing interoperability among participating air forces” with focus on role-oriented and near-realistic combat training, PAF statement said.


Pakistan hosted the first Aces exercise in 2017 in which PAF, RSAF and Turkish Air Force participated with aircraft. It focused on exploring and developing air power to contribute effectively to the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism campaigns.

PAF established the Airpower Centre of Excellence (ACE) in 2016 to transform air force capabilities to meet future challenges and to strengthen relations with friendly air forces through experience sharing and joint training. Pakistan has the seventh largest air force in the world with an active fleet of 1364 aircraft, according to 2021 world air forces report.


PAF ties with Saudi Air Force
PAF enjoys close cooperation with many countries in the Middle East and frequently participated in bilateral exercises and joint training.

Pakistan has a longstanding close relationship with Saudi Arabia dating back to the 1940s and strategic military ties formalized after a 1967 defense accord. Over the decades, Saudi Arabia stood by Pakistan during its difficult times, ensuring economic assistance and oil supply. In response, Pakistan provided military expertise and support to the kingdom for decades and also helped develop the Royal Saudi Air Force and trained its first fighter jet pilots in the 1960s.

Pakistan helps Saudi Arabia with military training, defense production and joint military exercises under a bilateral security cooperation agreement. Pakistan’s former military chief, General Raheel Sharif, is the current head of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition – an alliance of 41 states.

Riaz Haq said...

#PAF, #RSAF #USAF conclude multinational air exercise Aces Meet 2021-1 in #Pakistan. It included multiple missions across the airpower spectrum & offered near-realistic & role-oriented training to participants amidst #COVID19 #pandemic https://www.airforce-technology.com/news/paf-rsaf-and-usaf-conclude-aces-meet-2021-1/ via @DefenceTech_Mag

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has successfully completed the multinational air exercise Aces Meet 2021-1 at PAF base Mushaf.

The two-week long exercise saw active participation from the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) and the United States Air Force (USAF).

Addressing the participants involved in the exercise, PAF Base Mushaf air commodore Ali Naeem Zahoor said the exercise provided an opportunity to learn via ‘mutual sharing of experiences’.

ACES MEET 2021-1 included multiple missions across the airpower spectrum and offered near-realistic and role-oriented training to participating members even during the challenging situations due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Members of PAK, RSAF and USAF special forces performed several Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) missions during the exercise.

According to a statement posted on Radio Pakistan, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan air forces acted as observers for the drill.

The exercise included the employment of fighter jets from the air forces of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, as well as airborne early warning and control aircraft and military satellites.

The deployed assets helped improve coordination and harmony between the ground elements and air component.

Riaz Haq said...

#US Warship USS Monterey visits #Pakistan's #Karachi port. It's part of the 5th Fleet that covers Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, & parts of the Indian Ocean. Includes 20 countries and 3 chokepoints critical to the free flow of commerce. https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/847059-us-guided-missile-cruiser-uss-monterey-comes-to-karachi-port


KARACHI: US guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) on Tuesday reached Karachi port on a two-day visit. The cruiser is deployed with the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKE CSG).

During the ship’s visit, US Embassy Chargé d’affaires a.i. Lesslie Viguerie came aboard and met with the crew.

“The military-to-military ties between the United States and Pakistan are strong and enduring,” said Chargé Viguerie. “Through staff exchanges and joint exercises, we are working together to protect the world’s most important shipping lanes, combat piracy, and counter-terrorism. Together, we can help ensure a more peaceful, stable, and prosperous South Asia.”

The Monterey’s visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team also improved bilateral maritime security capabilities and interoperability through a subject matter expert exchange with their Pakistani counterparts.

“Monterey’s crew was excited for the opportunity to visit Pakistan,” said Captain Joseph A Baggett, commanding officer of Monterey.

“It’s important that we continue to work together with regional and coalition partners and reinforce our mutual commitment to maritime security and stability.”

While in the 5th Fleet, the IKE CSG is operating and training alongside regional and coalition partners and providing naval aviation support to Operation Inherent Resolve.

The 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse comprises 20 countries and includes three chokepoints, critical to the free flow of commerce.

All aspects of the port visit were planned and carried out in full compliance with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Defense (DOD), and the host nation's COVID-19 mitigation measures.