By Ali Basit,

Today we live in an uncertain world where a man-made crisis or a natural
disaster can cause an immense suffering to mankind. In today’s globalised world,
our economies are extensively dependent upon sea as it carries the bulk of the world
trade. Therefore, Freedom of the seas is inevitable and exclusively a key to
economic prosperity. Any ill disruption cannot be afforded by the world at large; the
lives and livelihoods can be threatened in an instant way, necessity to have dealt
with tensions related to piracy, armed robbery, resources and territorial claims along
with unpredictable transnational threats. These are the problems created by man
that we face and now imagine what nature can do to affect the humanity with
earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and typhoons. That’s the essential reasons why
the navies have to work together to effectively address these emergent security and
humanitarian challenges and therefore, requires cooperation, collaboration,
establishing mutual trust, alliances and partnerships among nation state’s navies.
Keeping view the significance of the seas and its freedom, Navies of the world
play a pertinent role in maintaining the maritime domain free from threats by
conducting maritime security operations alongside Humanitarian Assistance and
Disaster Relief (HADR) engagements. A cognizant of Pakistan’s diplomatic and
economic alignment vis-à-vis federal government’s recent initiative about Pakistan –
Africa convergence, Pakistan Navy has scheduled Over Seas Deployment (OSD) of
its two ships to African Continent in order to deliver HADR support and strengthen
Naval Diplomatic ties, furthering Pakistan’s foreign office objective of expanding
relations with African states as highlighted in the recently organized Envoy’s
Conference in Islamabad titled “Engage Africa”. The Pakistan Navy ships namely
ASLAT and MOAWIN had already paid port visits to various African countries
(Morocco, Mauritania, Ghana, and Nigeria) before reaching to South Africa’s port of
Cape Town. Alongside port visits, Pakistan Navy has also established Medical
camps wherein hundreds of patients were given free medicines alongside Medical
treatments including general treatment, minor surgeries and dental procedures were
carried out. Moreover, it is rightly to mention here that the convoy during its long
expedition to African states continues to project Kashmir issue so as to highlight the
plight of Kashmiri people in Indian Occupied Kashmir particularly in wake of recent
spate of escalation between Pakistan and India. It may be noted that due to local
antiapartheid history it is imperative that Kashmir issue is projected more from
human rights angle rather than religious.
Pakistan and South Africa have been enjoying good bilateral relations since
full diplomatic relations were enforced in 1994. Nelson Mandela’s address during the
joint sitting of the parliament on his visit to Pakistan in 1999 remarked that “Today
Pakistan and South Africa have the opportunity to work together to eradicate poverty
in our own countries and to promote equity in the global arena… our renewal must
be fuelled by a vibrant economy. The same can be said for Pakistan.” Pakistan had
been at the forefront of the international efforts to dismantle the apartheid system.
Both Pakistan and South Africa are enjoying friction less political relations. However,
there is a need to institute regular engagement at various levels including bilateral
Joint Commissions at political level and increased defence convergences at military

level. So far, four Joint Commission meetings have been held and fifth is expected to
be held in Islamabad by February 2020. In defense domain Pakistan enjoys
dynamic relations with South Africa, exhibited by high level visits and mutual training
programs. There are frequent high level interactions among the military authorities of
the both sides. The previous year witnessed the visits of Chief of Army Staff General
Qamar Javed Bajwa and Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Mujahid Anwar followed by
the visit of Secretary Defence in order to boost defence ties between the two
Piracy and armed robbery are regarded as the main maritime security threats
to Southern Africa. To counter threats and to sustain a military deterrence at sea, the
South Africa signed an agreement with Mozambique and Tanzania in 2012 to patrol
the coast of Northern and Southern coast for ensuring safety of the commercial
vessels. Moreover, recently South Africa has engaged in first tri-lateral maritime
exercise along with Russian and Chinese navies. The exercise was aimed to
conduct anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa to ensure
that the commercial ships transiting the area remains out of danger from the
aforementioned threats.
Accompanying Africa in their deliberated efforts to secure African coasts from
emanating traditional and non-traditional threats, Pakistan Navy through these visits
vows to remain intact with African navies to refine mutually trusted bilateral relations
and continues to subdue the challenges being faced in maritime affairs. To sum up,
these recent port calls by Pakistan Navy Ships will allow Pakistan to further
strengthen existing relations with African countries and deepen political, economic,
security and socio-cultural ties in the future. Therefore, hope resides in the possibility
that the Pakistan Navy ships visit to African states will further bolster support to
Foreign Ministry of Pakistan in consistence with the vision of Political leadership to
achieve national policy objective aims at deepening Pakistan’s engagement with
Africa in diverse fields.