SRINAGAR: In an interesting development Pakistan is reported to have participated in a US-led naval exercise that had contingents from Saudi Arabia and Israel. Tel Aviv has confirmed the sensational development on Thursday.
The US Navy said in a statement that more than 9,000 people from 60 militaries took part in the International Maritime Exercise (IMX), which kicked off on Jan 31,” Pakistan newspaper The Dawn has reported. “The participants included Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Comoros, Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen who do not have diplomatic ties with Israel.”
The development follows the normalisation of relations of various Gulf countries with Israel, which include UAE and Bahrain. Even Riyadh is friendly with Tel Aviv but the relations have not been restored.
Confirming the development, the Times of Israel reported that this was Israel’s first participation in the International Maritime Exercise involving the US military’s Central Command and its 5th Fleet, which operates in the waterways around the Middle East.
In the IMX exercise, the newspaper said the Israel navy’s “3rd Flotilla, which operates missile ships, the 915th Patrol Boats Squadron, and the Unit for Underwater Fighting, known by its Hebrew acronym YALTAM, took part in the exercise”. The 18-day exercise took place in the Red Sea.
The exercise involved more than 80 drones, which makes it the world’s largest unmanned drill.
The multi-nation exercise in the region is significant in wake of Iran-US tensions over nuclear issues and frequent Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia. There have been some ship seizures in the Red Sea before the exercises started.
The maritime drill report came months after a controversy in Pakistan that Islamabad was under Riyadh pressure to recognise Israel, a report that the government refused. Interestingly, Islamabad has not reacted to the drill reports so far.