Need for new strategic partnerships
Posted on January 15th, 2013

By Afshain Afzal

The paradigm shift in the security calculus of the Indian Ocean Region, after Washington’s attempts of naval misadventures and positioning of foreign warships in and around Arabian Gulf has endangered the peace in whole region. Exercises between the countries have become a routine feature but often these serve as a message to the rivals and adversaries with regard to war potential, naval might and control over domain. Pakistan is emerging as one of the potential naval maritime naval power in the region. Islamabad shares common vision with a number of neighouring countries on joint naval maritime force but, in the past, due to one reason or the other, the foreign interest groups never allowed navies to move in the direction. Although, a number of countries desires to have defence and bilateral agreements to get closer but  there seems  a communication gap to achieve joint maritime naval force.

The idea of confederation or joint defence among the Muslim countries including regional countries can be traced back to the time when founder of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and talked about closer relations with the Muslim countries. At the Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference in 1949, Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan said, “The natural and religious links, the common culture and the identity of common outlook that exist between our people will stand the strain of will stand the strain of the people of Muslim countries and many a lest and will, am sure, prove a stabilizing factor in Asia.” Next Pakistan Prime Ministers Feroze Khan Noon and Abdul Qayum Khan of Khyber PK province raised the slogan of confederation among the Muslim countries. Motamar-e-Alam-e-Islamic (World Muslim Conference) organized its two sessions in 1949 and 1951, which were at attended by 17 countries while International Muslim Economic Conference was held on November 1949 and attended by 18 countries in which Pakistan brought Muslim countries on a platform to develop a system of collective bargaining and collective security.

Despite all these efforts, the idea of confederation could not be successful due to direct involvement of western nations to sabotage the plan.  Efforts made to establish organizations like Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) were short lived due to western interference and pressure. Ironically, military pact namely South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) in which United States, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, Thailand and Pakistan joined hands for the  collective defence in Southeast Asia was instead imposed on Pakistan. If we recall there was a important naval exercise “Sea Deman” between SEATO countries held from 10 to 29 April 1959, in Pacific waters. Another agreement, Central Treaty Organization and Central Eastern Treaty Organization (CEATO) was signed between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey to counter the threat of Soviet Union’s expansion into Middle East. Ironically, in both the treaties Britain and the United States were brain child behind the idea, which are even today not allowing Muslims countries to form their own defence system.

There is no doubt that Asian and Middle Eastern countries can form their own joint maritime navy and ground forces to defend each other territories as well to maintain peace in the whole region. Besides Pakistan, which has potential to dominate as one of the major future regional power in the India Ocean due to her geo-strategic location and relations with Muslim world, Saudi Arabia, as well, is coming up well. Royal Saudi Naval Force (RSNF), with headquarters at Riyadh, have on their credit Gulf War, Indo-Pak wars of 1965 & 1971, Operation Restore Hope and crushing of Sa’dah insurgency. To increase western dependence, US is persuading Saudi Arabia for the purchase of over 20 years old US Arleigh Burke Anti-Air Warfare destroyers while French are trying their level best to sell FREgate Multi Mission (FREMM) frigates. If this happens, Royal Saudi Naval Force would have to bear direct involvement of these countries. Whatever the case may be, Saudis have decided for building their navy on most modern lines, with state of the art technology. However, there is a strong resistance amongst Saudis against increase in western foreign influence and votes in favour of regional Muslim alliance. Other Middle Eastern countries are also on the move to modernize navies on modern lines.

Pakistan has already entered into a new era of self-reliance. In the years to come, with emerging naval staging bases in and around India Ocean, Pakistani port of Gawadar would act as deterrence to control Indian Ocean, in which friendly navies can play prominent roles. If we recall, in 2012, Chinese Navy ships gave surprise visit to Indian port of Cochin which alarmed Commander in Chief of Israeli Navy, Vice Admiral Elizer Marom, and US Navy Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), who warned New Delhi about significance of Gawadar port and Chinese designs against India. The misadventure of Washington to include Israel and India in the same naval configuration to saddle Tehran would be nothing more than a marriage of inconvenience and would result in the exclusion of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and many other Muslim countries. It is, but, natural that any alliance with Israel and to some extent India would result in the creation of parallel alliances.

In the prevailing situation, Washington has constituted a naval block against Tehran, in which beside western navies, India and Israel are the major players. New Delhi has become so much blue eyed for Washington that despite sanctions outlined in Section 1245 of the National Defence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, over Iranian oil trade, India and some other countries are encouraged to enjoy maximum benefit from Iranian oil. Although, India has also persuaded Saudi Arabia to set up a Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation for their navies to cooperate in the Indian Ocean but there are lots of reservations as India is the main country which through her Cyber Command is tarnishing the image of Saudi Arabia by dubbing Saudis as “Salafi Extremists” as well as engineering difference between Riyadh and Tehran that may lead to full-fledged war.

The geo-strategic and economic importance of Arabian Gulf is immense. The non-regional countries, due to their own vested interests, are trying to become self- proclaimed policemen in the region thus inviting unnecessary tension between nations and disturbing prevailing peace. After the failure of International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX-2012) in meeting its objectives with regard to Strait of Hormuz, there can be no doubt that sooner or later, the control of Indian Ocean, especially Strait of Hormuz would jointly be shared by navies of China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other countries in alliance.  [email protected]

One Response to “Need for new strategic partnerships”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    “sooner or later, the control of Indian Ocean, especially Strait of Hormuz would jointly be shared by navies of China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other countries in alliance.”

    Saudi? That despicable barbarians? NO WAY!

    Soon Strait of Hormuz will be under the control of USA, Russia, EU, Israel, Japan and China. They should share the oil riches of ALL Muslim countries. A Saudi-Ran war will be fantastic for world peace. They are the biggest financiers of terrorism in SL. Saudi finances Wahabi terrorism which is now spreading like a cancer. Iran finances Shia terrorism and Sufi terrorism also spreading in SL like a cancer. We want BOTH dead.

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