KARACHI - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Friday said cooperation between international navies was imperative to counter the threats of terrorism, drug trafficking and piracy.

In a message on Pakistan Navy's Multinational Exercise AMAN-17, he said Pakistan being a major stakeholder in maritime security of Arabian Sea was fully committed to ensuring freedom of navigation and lawful maritime order.

About the Indian Ocean, the primer said the maritime security challenges there were both multidimensional and multifaceted. Threats like maritime terrorism, drug trafficking and piracy have acquired international dimensions, he added.

He said cooperation between international navies was therefore imperative to counter these emerging threats. "I am confident that AMAN-17 will be a big stride towards this direction."

The prime minister said Pakistan's geostrategic prominence capitalised with the launching of China Pakistan Economic Corridor, will become a `Game Changer' for the region.

He said the mega project offers multitude of regional and trans-regional economic prospects especially in the maritime sphere.

The growing reliance on maritime highways with their enormous economic benefits have accentuated the need for keeping a safe and secure environment at sea.

AMAN-17 formally commenced at Pakistan Navy Dockyard, under the aegis of Pakistan Navy with a colorful flag hoisting ceremony with a navy band playing national songs.

Ships of the participating navies, observers, foreign diplomats and a large number of Pakistan Navy officers and men attended the event.

The premier said he looks forward to a successful and rewarding exercise and thanked all participating countries for taking part in this endeavour of readiness for promotion of peace.

"I am glad that through AMAN series of exercises, Pakistan Navy has been able to act as a bridge in the maritime domain by bringing together the navies of East and West on one platform."

"I also appreciate the enthusiastic and vigorous efforts of Pakistan Navy for successfully organising AMAN series of exercises since 2007," he added.

Address of Pak Fleet commander

Speaking on the occasion, Pakistan Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Arifullah Hussaini said that “we are here for a common purpose, for a common goal to ensure security, to make this world safe for us and for rest of the humanity… that is what our constitution mandates us to do”.

He said, “We believe in inclusive policy and we think that if the world stands together, there will be great benefits for all of us.”

The commander said that the region is experiencing swift geostrategic changes which have arose a number of challenges for Pakistan but have also provided many opportunities that promise a security improvement not only within Pakistan but also in the region at large.

He said Pakistan Navy has always been a consistent security contributor in Indian Ocean region. Being a lead nation, Pakistan’s maritime forces are actively participating with other navies in combating Narco trade, human smuggling, gun running, terrorism and piracy at high sea.

“We need to make collective efforts to eliminate these threats for lasting peace in the region,” he added. The importance of this collaboration will enhance with the complete operationalisation of CPEC and Gwadar Port – which are meant to bring prosperity not only to Pakistan but the region and beyond.

The vice admiral said the multinational exercise AMAN-17 is an effort which will surely improve response, tactics and procedures among various maritime forces operating in the region. The concept of exercise is to promote understanding which will be developed through formal and informal interactions.

He said the exercise is expected to further refine the concept of ‘collective and collaborative’ security among the participants. Pakistan in general and Pakistan Navy in particular takes immense pride in leading these efforts, he added.

Fleet commander extended warm welcome to the participating navies and hoped that their presence and togetherness will forge a cooperation which will prevent conflicts “and should there be one, we will quickly resolve it to establish and maintain lasting peace”. He also valued participating nations for supporting Pakistan’s resolve for ensuring peace in the region.

AMAN series of multinational naval exercises is being conducted biennially by Pakistan Navy since 2007. The current exercise is 5th in the series. The exercise, bringing in various navies under one umbrella, has a growing number of participants. This year 36 nations are participating with their ships, aircraft, Special Operating Forces, observers and speakers.

One of the key features, other than sea exercise, is international maritime conference spread over three days, being organised by National Maritime Policy Research Centre.