ISLAMABAD (MAMOSA Report) — The Pakistan Navy has test fired the “Zarb” surface-to-sea missile and formally inducted it into its Navy defense system, aimed at thwarting any possible aggression by adversaries from the Arabian sea.
“The missile was fired from a strategic point located at a coastal area which successfully hit its target in the Arabian sea,” Dawn quoted Nadeem Bokhari, a spokesman for the Pakistan Navy Commodore as saying in a statement issued from naval headquarters in the capital here.
Terming the successful test as an addition to Islamabad’s strategic power against the enemy, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zakaullah said that Pakistan Navy will continue to modernize its maritime in meeting defense and security challenges.
Pakistan is anticipating fresh security challenges as it is hosting China’s $46 billion Economic Corridor which will not only connect its western province of Xinjiang to the Middle East, Africa and Europe but cut its oil import sea route to almost 2400km from the present 12,000km via the South China Sea.
Pakistan’s deep sea port in Gwadar — the gateway for CPEC, is located in the southwestern province of Balochistan which has a very long coastline along the Arabian sea.
It has thus allocated a special Marine Battalion at the port for surveillance. These marines will safeguard sea links used for communication and provide protection to trade ships routing in and out of the port in the near future.
Given its proximity with vital international sea routes, Gwadar is likely to become a major port of the country and the region. Located near the international sea routes leading to the Persian Gulf from where 17,500 oil tankers and 7,300 cargo ships pass every year, the navy will require major improvements in the next four to five years once the port becomes fully operational, it has emerged.
Once trade under CPEC magnifies and Central Asian countries also join in, it would need more equipment and platforms. For this, PN is in the process of shifting some of its operations and naval assets from Karachi to the newly-built Naval Base in the strategic town of Ormara located mid-way between Karachi and Gwadar.
Moreover, owing to the hostility between India and Pakistan, Pakistan Navy has plans on maintaining a 1:5 power balance with its arch rival. According to reports, India plans on acquiring 50 warships, three aircraft carriers and 22 submarines, of which five will be nuclear submarines, in the next 10 to 15 years.
According to reports, China and Pakistan will stage a joint air force exercise this month.
“Shaheen (Eagle)-5,” the fifth such drill between the two countries, will take place from April 9 to 30, Xinhua quoted Chinese Air Force spokesperson Shen Jinke as saying on Saturday.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will arrive in India Sunday on a three-day visit.
Carter will first visit Goa and then the Indian capital New Delhi at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar.
Ahead of his visit, Carter said in New York that discussions with the Indian leadership would be global-based, covering all issues.
He also said that there was no question of treating India as the other side of the Pakistan coin, or vice versa, reports Indian news agency ANI.