Pakistan Navy to hold largest ever multinational exercise of its history

Pakistan Navy to hold largest ever multinational exercise of its history

WASHINGTON - Pakistan’s Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi has said that India's sea based nuclear weaponry initiative has compelled Islamabad to take measures for deterrence in order to keep strategic stability paradigm stabilised.

"Our Eastern neighbor has introduced sea-based nuclear weapons which was a major deviation, and a major nuclear change, between our two countries. So we think once you disturbed this strategic stability paradigm then there is an increased risk of war or conflict," he said adding that, in order to address the threat Pakistan opted for the minimum deterrence required to plug this gap.

Talking to media here at the Pakistan Embassy on Monday afternoon, Admiral Abbasi said since Pakistan was facing security issues, especially threats from its Eastern neighbour, for which it has an elaborate programme in place. The programme provides all the tools, procedures and settings under the Central Command which runs through Strategic Plans Division. "Sea-based nuclear weapons provide assured second strike capability which disturbs the equation, so unless we equate that then the imbalance might induce India to start a conventional war," he added.

Answering a question Admiral Abbasi dismissed the concern that China was setting up a base at the Gwadar Port, and insisted that there was "absolutely no truth to that." He said that there were no plans to hand over any base to foreign navies anywhere in Pakistan, and emphasised that Gwadar was purely a commercial harbour and only Pakistan Navy would have "a big base there." He said so far no foreign warship had entered Gwadar, but whenever that happens it would be open to all other navies including US, French and Royal navy as well.

He further said that Pakistan signed a deal with China in early 2016 to purchase eight conventional submarines. The programme will mature in 2025, half of them will be built in China and the rest in Pakistan.

Referring to recently inked India-US maritime agreements, Admiral Abbasi said such deals were not "a zero sum game," and would not mean that the US was holding exercises with India and not with Pakistan.

"Pakistan is going to hold multi-national maritime exercises in February next year, where some fifty navies from the world including US and Chinese navy will take part," he said. Last such maritime exercise took place in 2017 in which 37 countries participated. However, the naval chief urged that the US should share intelligence gathering with Pakistan to combat drug trafficking through sea routes.