COMBINED EFFORTS: Commodore Muhammad Shafique, the mission commander of visiting PN task force (front row, second left) and Shahzad Ahmad, Pakistan’s ambassador to Qatar (front row, second right) with other dignitaries at the dinner reception.
By Umer Nangiana
From the command of Combined Task Force (CTF-151) and Pakistan Navy’s resolve to work in tandem with maritime community to deploying destroyer frigates, Pakistan stands ready to make its contribution in efforts aimed at uprooting piracy from the region.
In pursuance of its commitment, Pakistan Navy (PN) joined Task Force 151 in 2009 to combat piracy. Currently, it is commanding CTF-151 for the 6th time, which is a testimony of PN’s commitment, said Commodore Muhammad Shafique, the Mission Commander of the Pakistan Navy Task Group comprising a submarine and two ships currently harboured at Doha Port.
Speaking to the guests at a dinner reception hosted on-board one of the ships, PNS Madadgar, for dignitaries from the Qatari Emiri Navy (QEN) besides diplomats and members of Pakistani community, the commander of the visiting PN task group told the audience that the multinational naval forces are organised in the form of Task Forces (TF-150) and Pakistan Navy has commanded TF-150 for seven times which is a singular honour for any regional navy.
“Pakistan Navy will continue to play its role for contributing in Pakistan government’s efforts for peace and stability in the region,” said Shafique.
Besides Shahzad Ahmad, Ambassador of Pakistan to Qatar, the guests included Brigadier General Thamer Ibrahim al-Kaabi, Flotilla Commander QEN, Brigadier General Abdul Kareem al-Jalham, Commander of Operations Centre QEN, members of diplomatic corps, military attaches and members of the media. Speaking about the visiting task force comprising two ships and a submarine, Commodore Shafique told the audience that PNS Submarine Khalid is an Agosta 90B class submarine that was inducted in Pakistan Navy in 1999.
The submarine has high quality pressure hull steel for deeper diving capabilities and fitted with multipurpose wire-guided torpedoes and sub launched missiles. “The submarine is fitted with air independent propulsion system which gives it extended underwater endurance as compared to conventional submarines of the world,” he told the guests.
The second unit of the Task Group is a potent missile fitted Fast Attack Craft PNS Azmat. The ship was constructed in China while the second ship of the same class has been constructed at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works in collaboration with China. The ship is highly suitable to undertake counter terrorism tasks in littoral waters, said the task force commander.
PNS Madadgar, on the other hand, is a small tanker-cum-utility ship (STUS) and has been indigenously built at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works in 2011. “It is designed for multipurpose roles and operations like logistic support, mine laying, recovery and salvage operations, towing and attendant vessel, harbour fuelling and SAR. It is fitted with state-of-the-art sensors and self defence weapons,” said the Commander.
The dignitaries from the QEN and the PN task force commander cut a cake before to commemorate cordial bilateral relations between Pakistan and Qatar, and the navies of the two countries. “Pakistan and Qatar enjoy cordial and brotherly relations which are based on the bonds of common faith and cultural affinity as well as geographic proximity. We in Pakistan feel happy to see Qatar making progress in all fields,” Shafique told the guests.
He added that the two countries have identical views on important issues. “I am very confident that the current visit of Pakistan Navy submarine and ships to Qatar will further strengthen the brotherly ties between our two navies,” said the commander of the visiting PN vessels.
He conveyed his gratitude to authorities of Qatar in general and Qatar Emiri Navy in particular for their hospitality extended to PN ships visiting Qatar from time to time.
Shafique said Pakistan believes in promoting peace and security in the region. It believes in freedom of seas and trade. It has remained committed to international community to maintain stability and to curb terrorism, in all its forms.
Pakistan Navy, as an instrument of government policy, has a mission to safeguard these interests.
“We in conjunction with international and regional navies are participating in Multinational Operations, commonly known as Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan (CMCP) since April 2004 to prevent maritime environment being used for unlawful purposes and to make Sea Lines of Communication safe and secure for the seafarers in the region,” the commander apprised the audience.
The Pakistani naval vessel’s commander extended his profound gratitude to HE the Minister of State for Defence Affairs Major General Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah, Chief of Staff of Qatar Armed Forces, Major General Ghanim bin Shaheen al-Ghanim, Commander of Qatar Emiri Navy, Major General Mubarak al-Mohannadi and Pakistan embassy for extending all out support in making the visit a memorable one. “We in Pakistan look forward to further increase existing scale of co-operation and interaction between both countries (Pakistan and Qatar) in general and navies in particular,” said Shafique.
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