To Counter India, Pak Launches Naval Exercise

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Islamabad: Pakistan’s Navy kicked off a major exercise Saturday as it tries to modernize and expand to counter growing Indian naval power, as well as protect its maritime economy and trade links.

Exercise Ribat aims to validate the Navy’s “war-fighting concepts under evolving multifaceted threats ranging from conventional to subconventional warfare,” and it involves enhancing cooperation with the Air Force “at extended ranges into the Arabian Sea,” according to a military news release. It culminates on March 6 with a live-fire exercise.

New missile/patrol boats are therefore being sought to protect Pakistan’s growing maritime economy and trade links, upon which it has pinned hopes of economic revival, with China and Turkey vying to supply these.

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Conventionally vis-a-vis India, Pakistan’s Navy is in desperate need of modernization and expansion. Kamal Alam, visiting fellow and Pakistan analyst at the British think tank Royal United Services Institute, said that during past conflicts the Navy played a “very minimal role against India,” historically being the “weakest of the three services.”

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