Karachi - The five-day multinational maritime exercise AMAN-19 was formally kick-started with a colourful flag-hoisting ceremony here at Pakistan Navy Dockyard on Friday.

Flags of all the 46 participating countries including Pakistan were hoisted and the contingents of Pakistan Navy presented a march-past.

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

Commander Pakistan Fleet Vice Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi graced the occasion as chief guest whereas Chief of Romanian Naval Forces Vice Admiral Alexandru Mirsu and Commander Zimbabwe National Army Lt General Edzai Absolom Chanyuka Chimonyo attended the ceremony as guests of honour.

During the ceremony, the message of Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi was also read out.

In his message the Naval Chief warmly welcomed the participations of Exercise AMAN-19, the 6th episode of the AMAN initiative.

Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi highlighted in his message that today threats to maritime security increasingly emanate from contemporary asymmetric challenges that have deeply impacted the maritime environment.

There is strong realisation that given the vast expanse of oceans and an array of maritime threats, preserving maritime order in the global commons, necessitates collaborative efforts as a matter of compulsion rather than choice.

“I look forward to successful and rewarding Exercise and thank all the participants who have travelled great distances to be our worthy guests and invaluable partners, in pursuit of peace,” the Naval Chief stated in his message.

Speaking on the occasion, Commander Pakistan Fleet Vice Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi warmly welcomed the august participating nations for a common resolve “Together for Peace”.

Vice Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi emphasized the need for work together, by keeping our differences aside, to defeat our common adversaries. These adversaries, he pointed out pose threats like piracy, terrorism, drug-trafficking, gun-running and human smuggling; and greater adversary is the climate change which calls for a growing need to respond to it collectively.

He said that despite having a turbulent phase of its contemporary history, Pakistan remained steadfast in fighting the forces of terror and tyranny.

Pakistan continues to be a responsible state, cognizant of its role and significance in the international system.

Vice Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi highlighted that Pakistan has been a proactive member of maritime security initiatives launched as part of the war against terror.

Pakistan Navy has always been a consistent Security contributor in Indian Ocean Region. Task Force 88 and Regional Maritime Security Patrol (RMSP) have been institutionalized to ensure maritime security of Gwadar and adjacent sea lanes and maintain robust security posture in critical sea areas and choke points in Indian Ocean for protection of national and international shipping.

A Flag hoisting ceremony of participating Special Operations Forces was also held separately at Pakistan Navy Unit PNS IQBAL, which was graced by Commander Coast, Vice Admiral Muhammad Fayyaz Gilani as chief guest.

In tandem with various activities on the 1st day of Exercise AMAN 2019, Deputy Chief of Cambodian Navy, Vice Admiral Sam Sokhaand Chief of Staff Sri Lankan Navy, Rear Admiral JJ Ranasinghe called on Vice Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Kaleem Shaukat in separate meetings.

During the meetings matters of mutual interests and maritime security dynamics came under discussion.

While highlighting the role of Pakistan Navy in maritime security efforts, Vice Chief of Naval Staff expressed that Pakistan Navy has remained an active contributor in multinational coalition efforts and conduct of AMAN series of Exercise is a quantum leap in this direction.

Later during the day, Commander Zimbabwe National Army, Lt General Edzai Absolom Chanyuka Chimonyo had interaction with Commander Coast and Commander Karachi.

Besides, senior officers of participating countries including observers and commanding officers of foreign ships also called on Commander Pakistan Fleet and Commander Logistics. Chief of Romanian Naval Forces, Vice Admiral Alexandru Mirsu laid floral wreath at Mazar-e-Quaid.

AMAN-19 is a multinational Naval Exercise conducted biennially by Pakistan Navy since 2007. The exercise is based on Pakistan Navy led initiative to bring in world navies under one umbrella for collaborative peace and security in the maritime domain.

The current exercise, 6th in the series has a growing number of participants. This year 45 nations are participating through Ships, Aircraft, Special Operating Forces, Observers and Speakers.

The exercise will be conducted in two phases. The harbour phase started on Friday will continue till Sunday, and that will be followed by a sea phase on Feb 11 and 12. Aman-2019 is mostly a non-firing exercise as live weapon firing was only carried out in a marked area known to all ships.

One of the key events of AMAN-19 other than sea exercises, is 'International Maritime Conference' spanned over three days, being organized by National Centre for Maritime Policy Research (NCMPR).