Naval Exercise

In the Right Direction

The Aman-21 Exercise will emerge as a colossal CBM amid rapidly complicated geopolitics in the Western Indian Ocean.

By Dr. Maliha Zeba Khan | February 2021


AMAN, the spatiotemporal exercise is held by Pakistan biennially and has established a strong foothold in maritime security since 2007. It has emerged as a symbol of Pakistan’s desire to keep the ocean secure and free from any threats aiming at uninterrupted movement through the seas for global traffic. It provides ample opportunities to nations to engage in collaborative security to gather and test operational capabilities, maneuvering skills against all sorts of criminal activities as well as exchange of views to deal with kinetic and non-kinetic security threats in the seas and oceans.

“Security” is probably one of the most extensively used words across the world, with numerous definitions and perspectives; and has been driven by several dynamics. The concept of security for the states is quite complex yet broad which may involve a spatial dimension. However, the concept of security is commonly mentioned and discussed with reference to the land mass. States establish cooperative, collective and collaborative measures to ensure their security; and even joint military exercises are arranged normally as part of their mutual understanding to fulfill multiple purposes. However, sometimes these arrangements and such exercises can be perceived as threats too for other states of the region or even outside. Such threat perceptions bring uncertainty to the geopolitical environment and states, due to their intrinsic insecurities, could get involved more in differences and even conflicts.

Naval-ExerciseMaritime security is a broad domain with numerous threats as well as challenges. Overlapping national security concerns of the littoral states usually put them in an ordeal of finding a mechanism to defend themselves and stay secure from all external threats and internal strife in the vast seas and oceans. Nevertheless, joint exercises take place in the maritime domain. Yet the threat perception or the message being conveyed to the other actors could prove more intense with certain implications, resulting in shifts in maritime geopolitics. One such example was the weakening of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue arrangement between the USA, Japan, India and Australia soon after its establishment in 2007 when the Second Malabar Exercise of 2007 was conducted under that arrangement in the Bay of Bengal. It was interpreted by China and its friends as strategic containment of China, and an effort to increase control over the Asia-Pacific Region, which eventually put its purpose on hold for a long time.

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The writer is an Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations, National Unversity of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad. She can be reached at

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