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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/12/22

India alarmed at Sino-Pakistan naval exercise

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China and Pakistan kicked off a four-day joint maritime exercise on Sunday in an effort to bolster their naval cooperation, which some analysts see as a cause of concern for India, Radio Free Asia reported.

The PLA Eastern Theatre Command Navy sent the frigate Xiangtan, the corvette Shuozhou, the comprehensive supply ship Qiandaohu, a submarine, an early warning aircraft, two fighter jets and a helicopter for the drill while the Pakistan Navy's frigate Taimur joined the exercise, according to the Global Times.

Taimur is the second of four powerful Type 054A/P frigates built by China. It was delivered to the Pakistan Navy in Shanghai on June 23. The first ship in the Type 054A/P-class, the Tughril, joined the Pakistan Navy Fleet in January, according to the GT report.

The drills follow last month's visit to China by Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. During the trip, General Javed Bajwa held talks with Zhang Youxia, one of China's top generals and Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission.

The two countries also need to jointly demonstrate their capabilities in safeguarding strategic sea lanes that transport energy and goods, Wei Dongxu, a Chinese military expert said.

The first edition of the 'Sea Guardians' exercise was held in January 2020 in the North Arabian Sea off Karachi. The Arabian Sea region is strategically important as major Indian ports including Kandla, Okha, Mumbai, Mormugao, New Mangalore and Kochi are located there. The Arabian sea provides entry to the Indian Ocean where China currently has built a logistics base at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.

The Press Trust of India quoted observers as saying that Sino-Pakistan military cooperation in recent years focused more on the Navy as China gradually stepped up its naval presence in India's backyard, the Indian Ocean. Besides building its first military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa in the Indian Ocean, China has acquired Pakistan's Gwadar port in the Arabian Sea which connects with China's Xinjiang province by land in the USD 60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

"Naval cooperation between China and Pakistan has been going on for quite some time but is gaining momentum now," RFA quoted Sana Hashmi, an Indian analyst as saying. Sana Hashmi is currently Visiting Fellow at the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation in Taipei.

"This exercise in particular is being noticed in India as China's reach in the IOR [Indian Ocean Region] will be bolstered with Pakistan's assistance. Definitely a cause of concern for India," she said.

"China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) exists primarily to extend and strengthen China's reach to the IOR and that's one of the reasons besides the sovereignty issues that India opposes CPEC," said Hashmi, adding that the Sino-Pakistan growing ties "will further bolster the Quad and encourage them to strengthen maritime cooperation."

The Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, is a strategic security dialogue between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. Beijing has been slamming it, saying that the group represents an attempt to form an "Asian NATO," the Radio Free Asia said adding, Quad countries have repeatedly rejected the criticism.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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