Multinational military exercise organized by Pakistan will start a week-long naval action in the Arabian Sea on Thursday. Which could set the tone for strengthening bilateral relations with many countries, experts said.
Naval forces from 45 countries, including the United States, China, Russia and Turkey, will take part in Aman 2021 from February 11-16.
Russia will join military exercise with NATO members for the first time in a decade, a development seen as significant. The Russian and NATO forces last took part in an exercise by Bold Monarch in 2011 off the coast of Spain.
Under the slogan “Together for Peace“, the Pakistan Navy said the exercise aimed at “promoting international cooperation in fighting piracy. Also for counter terrorism and other crimes” that threaten maritime security and stability.
“In these circumstances, associations of 45 countries, including rivals, need attention,” defense analyst Lt. Gen.(R) Talat Masood told media referring mounting diplomatic tensions between Washington, Moscow and Beijing.
The biannual exercise also allows Russia and NATO members to engage militarily, he added.
“The exercise will also serve as a diplomatic boost to Islamabad,” said Masood, who served in Pakistan Army. “Pakistan has shown that expanded diplomatic influence to point where it unify countries that otherwise hostile to each other.”
United States & Russia are In-line
Munawar Hussain Panhwar, assistant professor at Quaid-i-Azam International University in Islamabad said. “The rare military contacts between Russia and the United States are in line with US President Joe Biden’s “engagement” policy.”
Multinational military exercise would also intensify Islamabad’s efforts to strengthen defense and military ties with Russia, India’s longtime ally.
“This could allow Islamabad to further support defense and military relations with its traditional allies and to seek new regional and international partners, at least in the defense sector,” he told the media.
Referring the involvement of several countries in South and East Asia, including Bangladesh Masood said, “He will send a message to India that Pakistan is not an isolated country but a willing partner with other countries.”
The cold relations between the two nuclear neighbors have further collapsed in recent years, especially after New Delhi cancelled semi-autonomous status of Indian-occupied Kashmir in August 2019.
Islamabad also accuses New Delhi of supporting Afghan fighters and sabotaging infrastructure projects such as the China-Pakistan economic corridor.
Pahnwar, who teaches international relations says the event is an opportunity for Islamabad to further strengthen its geographic interests. Pakistan borders Iran, Afghanistan, China and India.
Ishtiaq Ahmad, security analyst and vice chancellor at Sarghoda University in Punjab, said that by joining forces with competing interests in the Indian Ocean, Pakistan has contributed to the region’s peace and stability.