Source: Pakistan Navy

Ubaid Ahmed 

Pakistan’s ‘Look Africa’ policy to extend its impressions in Africa is a marvel step. Pakistan has had profoundly established, memorable and enthusiastic bond with African countries which dates back to the period of anti-colonial struggle. Pakistan was the first Muslim nation to gain independence from British Colonialism, and later, to spearhead diplomatic and political support for freedom movements in African nations. Additionally, in times
of emergencies in Africa, Pakistan’s United Nation Peacekeeping missions have been at the forefront. Numerous Pakistanis have served on various African assignments, where they not just contributed their expertise for institutional development in Africa, but also gave African mainland a voice in the global community.

Africa was the first continent in which Islam spread out of Arabia and the first African converted to Muslims were the inhabitants of the Sahara-the Berbers, an ethnicity of several nations mostly indigenous to North Africa and some parts of West Africa. And it was by the second half of the tenth century that Sahara had become known as Dar al Islam. Islam cut across the ethnic, family and clan loyalties and stressed Islamic principles of fraternity and brotherhood. Islam abolished the racial segregation of the continent and gave a system of administration i.e. the Muslim Systems of Judiciary and Taxation. Moreover, the Islamic clerics also founded religious centers, school and colleges and by then inter-marriages were also a known phenomenon. Thus to say the religion which started flowing through trade in the early seventh century was well spread across the continent  at the closing decades of tenth century.

Pakistan being an Islamic country has a sheer resolve of maintaining peace and security in the region. Pakistan also in pursuance of its foreign policy objectives remained committed to maintaining stability and curbing terrorism in all its form. Pakistan Navy therefore, on a support role and as an instrument of government policy, has a mission to safeguard freedom of seas and trade and secure Sea Lanes of Communication emanating from the Strait of Hormuz and straddling across the Horn of Africa. Pakistan Navy’s Ships, namely Pakistan Navy Ship ASLAT and Pakistan Navy Ship MOAWIN are on port calls to the continent of Africa. The respective ships of Pakistan Navy have been called on the ports of Casa Blanca and Nouakchott so far in Africa. The ships provided medical assistance, distributed free medicines and conducted surgeries in the free medical camps being established by the ships. The third port call was made to the port of Takoradi, Ghana which is located in the West Africa. The ships also organized a  medical camp there and provided medical assistance to the local populace alongside the distribution of free medicines in a bid to help the underprivileged class. Pakistan and Ghana enjoy close and cordial relations. These relations are characterized by a shared sense of history perception and important regional and international issues. The imprint of this cooperative relationship transcends down to social and cultural fields. Various avenues of collaboration between Ghana and Pakistan exist in domains such as Defence and Industries and hopefully will be explored and bolstered further in the milieu of such port calls.

Source: Pakistan Navy
Source: Pakistan Navy

Besides setting up medical camps, during the port calls as an instrument of government policy, Pakistan Navy’ Contingent Commander and respective Commanding Officers also voiced the plight of Kashmiris and the atrocities being committed by the Indian security forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) during their interactions with different dignitaries. The engagements also include delegation level talks with NATO, EU and other multilateral organizations. It was highlighted that the security in Kashmir has seriously endangered the security of the entire region and world at large. The world community was also urged to break its silence and to take strict notice of the killings being perpetrated in the occupied valley.

Summing it up, Pakistan Navy along with other coalition partners is committed to providing collaborative maritime security and is also at the forefront in providing humanitarian assistance and strengthening soft image through Naval diplomacy. The port calls by PNS ASLAT and MOAWIN to various ports of Africa are in pursuance of the policies of the Government of Pakistan to explore new vistas for future collaborative initiatives.

Ubaid Ahmed is an independent researcher and regularly contributes for
national dailies.