Pakistan to command coalition maritime force from April
By Umer Farooq
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will assume command of the Coalition Maritime Security Force, which has been operating in the Arabian Sea since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, from April 2006
The coalition force includes naval forces of Germany, United States, Britain and other western countries, as well as Pakistan. Defence Ministry officials confirmed that Pakistan would assume command from April 2006.
The main objective of the force is to provide stability to the region and to check the activities of international terrorist organisations operating there.
The visiting German defence minister, Dr Franz-Josef Jung, speaking at a press conference on Thursday, hinted that Pakistan would assume important responsibilities for the stability of Afghanistan in April 2006.
Jung, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan, made this announcement after meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Rao Sikandar Iqbal.
“The minister highlighted the ongoing efforts and contribution made by Pakistan’s security forces in curbing the menace of terrorism including the efforts at sea by participating in the Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan,” Jung said.
Germany has promised to provide necessary assistance in equipment and training in connection with Pakistan assuming command of the maritime force.
In response to a question regarding Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan, the German minister said: “We know that Pakistan and Afghanistan are in the process of enhancing their mutual understanding with regard to the latter’s internal stability, establishment of democratic institutions and reconstruction of the war-torn country.”
During the meeting between the two defence ministers, Pakistan and Germany signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the ‘protection of classified military information’.
The meeting focused on enhancing defence and military cooperation between the two countries. “We have been cooperating in military training and now we will enhance cooperation in this field,” said Jung.
He said German helicopters would continue to operate in the quake-affected areas till February next year. He also handed over medical aid and equipment worth $290,000 to a representative of the AJK government at Chaklala Air Base.