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Pakistani warship docks in Dubai on anti-piracy mission

A Pakistani warship has arrived in Dubai for a visit while on a regional security patrol to tackle piracy.

School children, members of the Pakistani community and dignitaries were welcomed aboard the PNS Saif for a tour before it resumes its patrols on Monday.

The warship – a Zulfiquar-class guided missile frigate – is one of several vessels engaged in anti-piracy patrols in the Horn of Africa and maritime patrols in the Gulf.

On a short press tour, the ship’s commanding officer spoke of the strong historic military and social relationship between the UAE and Pakistan and the vessels mission to safeguard shipping routes in the Gulf and the Horn of Africa.

“Pakistan’s navy remains poised to protect them,” said Captain Hamid Sajjad Lillah.

Waterways patrolled by the PNS Saif, notably the Strait of Hormuz, have come under intense scrutiny after an Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani was killed in a US airstrike on Thursday. The US has announced it will deploy nearly 3,000 additional troops to the Middle East amid rising tensions.

Iran is expected to retaliate and shipping lanes in the strait, a choke point for global oil supplies, are a target. About a third of the global oil traded by sea passes through the narrow strait, which is just 34 km at its narrowest point. In July, Iran seized a British oil oil tanker in the strait.

The conflict discussed on a press tour of the ship, however, more than 2,000 km away in landlocked Kashmir.

The world “must take notice” of human rights violations in Kashmir, said the ship’s commanding officer, Captain Lillah.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the special status of the Muslim-majority Kashmir region in September, which gave Jammu and Kashmir its own constitution, flag and the right to frame its own laws. At the same time, it locked down the region, enforced restrictions on movements, detained thousands and imposed a communications blackout.

Banners around the ship read, Human Rights Violations Must Stop in Kashmir – which India strongly denies.

Other officers noted that what happens in land always connects to what is at sea.

Coordination amongst stakeholders is the largest challenge in maritime security, noted the captain.

The ship’s last mission to the Horn of Africa was about eight months ago.

The Karachi-based warship can target enemies above and below the water’s surface, with armaments including 76mm and 730mm guns, an ET-52C Torpedo, an FM-90 surface to air missile, and a C-802 anti surface missile. It carries an Z-9EC helicopter that can target submarines.

But these would only be used when there is no other recourse.

“We have our rules of engagement for anti-piracy and the use of force is normally not an option,” said a Lt Commander, who would not be named.

“The reason piracy has gone down is because of the warships,” he said.

“There are a number of coalitions that have dampened the menace of piracy.”

The frigate is the second ship to carry the name Saif, a reference to Khalid ibn Walid, a companion of the Prophet Mohammed and army commander who helped unite Arabia under a single political entity for the first time.

Ibn Walid’s military success earned him the nickname Saifullah, Sword of God.

The first ship to carry the name was a Garcia-class frigate acquired by the US Navy on January 31, 1989.

The 135-metre vessel can operate independently or as part of a task force and has a displacement of 3,144 tonnes.

The current PNS Saif was acquired from China. It launched on 28 May, 2009 and was commissioned in Shanghai on 15 September, 2010.

It has a crew of 202.

The visit is an indication of goodwill said Ahmed Amjad Ali, the Consul General of Pakistan, Dubai.

“This is just a goodwill visit and it’s a routine visit, a tradition of the navy,” he said.

“Once the ship comes to the port the ship is open to the public. Every year we have ships go to friendly countries.”
Source: The National

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