Indian Ocean Naval Symposium – Towards Regional Maritime Cooperation

Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, simply speaking, is a maritime forum set up for the express purpose of enhancing collaboration in terms of collective security between states whose shores, inclusive of permanently held territories, are washed by the Indian Ocean as well as those which have a visible stake in its future. I wouldn’t be at all surprised though if most of the readers find this terminology(IONS) unfamiliar, as it doesn’t feature much in the news. This is possibly about to change as Pakistan’s involvement becomes increasingly prominent. Ever since the inaugural symposium was successfully hosted by the Indian Navy in 2008 on the vital theme of ‘Contemporary Trans-national Challenges – International Maritime Connectivities’, IONS has been providing a much-needed forum for naval professionals, specifically naval chiefs, of all member states from the South Asian, West Asian(Middle East), East African, South East Asian and Australian littorals, to directly interact with each other in a bid to enhance maritime cooperation and generate better mutual understanding. The involvement in this forum of the top tier of naval leadership of the Indian Ocean littoral states enables cooperative solutions to be found to the common maritime problems that plague the region.
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A Floating Testament to Pak-Turkey Naval Collaboration

The expected launch of an indigenously-constructed Fleet Tanker at the Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works Ltd on 19 August 2016 marks a significant milestone in the history of Pak-Turkey defence collaboration. These two countries have always enjoyed the most fraternal of ties and under its overarching warmth, cooperation at the military, and more particularly the naval, level has continued to blossom. The first time this relationship got formalised was under the Turco-Pak treaty of 1954, which inter alia also dealt with the vital subject of defence collaboration. The Pakistan-Turkey Military Consultative Group(MCG) was subsequently set up in 1988 to give a physical boost to the process.
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Combating Traditional and Non-traditional Threats at Sea

Navies all over the world, by virtue of the peculiar characteristics they are endowed with, play a significant role at all times in preserving the sanctity of the nation’s shores. Nontraditional challenges at sea like piracy, terrorism, poaching, narco-smuggling, gunrunning, human trafficking and environmental degradation have not only attained prominence, but tend to crop up in areas where they face the least resistance, thereby prompting the need for constant vigilance. Like in all illegal activities, there are fabulous sums of money to be made, which attracts all manner of criminal elements and even criminal enterprises in its fold. The involvement of organized crime in turn raises the bar for ruthlessness and violence at sea.
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Setting the Sea Afire – Exercise Seaspark

The Pakistan Navy’s annual war exercise code-named Seaspark is currently underway in the waters of the Arabian Sea. It happens to be the latest in a series of suchlike tactical exercises aimed at enhancing the Navy’s war fighting efficiency. The fleet’s maintenance schedule, in fact, is planned in such a manner that maximum number of ships, submarines, Maritime Patrol Aircraft and helicopters become available for participation. An year of phased work-ups at individual, squadron and fleet levels culminate in this vital exercise.
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Taking the War to the Sea

The dawn of 6 September 1965, a full fifty years ago this day, was like any other dawn. As the sun rose over the horizon, however, it ushered in, along with the ever-brightening rays of the sun, the steeds of war. Parents, unaware of the events unfolding at the border, had packed their children off to school but had to hastily rush to retrieve them when they heard the emotionally- charged somber announcement on radio about the outbreak of hostilities. Why radio, why not TV, one may ask? Well, TV had only recently made its appearance in the country and the only channel at the time, the state-owned PTV, did not commence its transmissions till 5:30 in the evening. The composed voice of President Ayub Khan, reassuring and determined, kept roaring over the available audio-visual spectrum, vowing defiance and demanding sacrifices. People responded to his call with gusto, donating whatever they could to the war effort.
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An Exercise in Naval Revamping

Introduction

Any nation’s military potential is generally an offshoot of its economic strength. There are however many instances where such military might becomes disprortionate in the face of a real or perceived threat. Any serious imbalance between the two over a reasonably prolonged period can lead to disastrous consequences, as the breakup of the Soviet Union proves. It’s obsession for excessive military spending to counter America’s bloated arsenal resulted in a country disintegrated and groping for economic well-being, despite possessing huge natural resources and a sound technological base.
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Demystifying Maritime Exclusion Zones

Recognising the military and economic impact of denying one’s adversaries access to free trade over the sea during hostilities, nations have over centuries resorted to what is commonly known as a naval blockade. The legal framework perfected over time( and codified in the London Declaration of 1909) specifies that only a warring country with the means to enforce a blockade can only formally declare one and while doing so, must behave impartially and not bar access to neutral ports.
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Protection of Shipping from Pakistan’s Perspective

Introduction

The subject of shipping protection has a direct relevance to us as the country, being wholly dependent on seaborne trade, is constrained to ensure its protection at times. In fact, one of the Navy’s primary tasks is to ensure the safety of our sea lines of communications.

A glance at our area of interest, the Indian Ocean region, shows that our three main trade routes are via the Red Sea, through the Malacca Straits and from the adjoining Gulf. It is obvious that physical defence of our shipping emanating from all these routes may be problematic, to say the least. Reliance would have to be placed on suitable merchantmen carrying our cargo, following international shipping routes up to the Gulf. Onward transshipment to Pakistani ports can then be organised from there, with our protective thrust based on this coastal route.
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Togetherness on the High Seas

There was a time in the distant past when men tentatively set sail into the forbidding seas on light wooden and papyrus- bound boats for the purpose of trade and exploration. Relatively unprotected ships laden with spoils rich for the taking posed an invitation to piracy, which wasn’t long in coming. When the time was ripe, nation states like England cashed in on this piracy trend by encouraging its intrepid seafarers to plunder the loaded Spanish galleons returning from the Americas. It was a matter of time again before countries like England, America and Turkey started commissioning the services of notorious buccaneers to target their political rivals and further their own national cause.
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Maritime Power Play in the Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean, since times immemorial, used to be an oasis of peace and prosperity, propelled largely by an overt interdependence on trade. Geography too had conspired to make the Ocean what it was, being encircled on three sides by a land mass, while the fourth towards the South was guarded by a natural barrier, the roaring forties and the fearsome fifties. Another peculiarity of the Indian Ocean is that it is ringed by seas and straits which facilitate extra regional sea trade. This was used to good advantage by traders, who were given free rein by the ruling classes, as such trade was to everyone’s benefit. The best way to do justice to the subject of maritime power play is thus to follow the fluctuating fortunes of the region in more or less a chronological sequence.
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