ISLAMABAD, 9 April 2006 — Pakistani and French forces are to hold joint drills in the Arabian Sea to further reinforce their cooperation in the areas of military tactics to counter terrorism.
“The French carrier group with the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will first carry out drills with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) from April 11 followed by exercises with Pakistan Navy (PN) next month,” said a statement issued by the French Embassy in Islamabad yesterday.
French Rafale and Super Etendard aircraft and French-origin Mirage aircraft of the PAF will take part in the exercises beginning April 11.
“The jets of the two forces will carry out attack and defense missions on sea and over land in the vicinity of the port city of Karachi,” said the statement.
“The French carrier group is present in the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Gulf to perform a mission in support of the operation Enduring Freedom,” the statement said.
It added the drills would provide an “excellent” opportunity to work with armed forces of Pakistan, which is a “front-line” state in the war against terrorism.
Pakistan and France are members of the Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan (CMCP) — a maritime component of Operation Enduring Freedom, the US-led international anti-terror coalition launched in Afghanistan in 2001 against the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.
Pakistan, the United States, France, Britain, Australia, Italy, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain are members of the CMCP, which operates in the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and waters off the Horn of Africa to deter terrorists, and arms and human smuggling.
After holding exercises with the PAF, the French carrier group will carry out drills with the PN involving submarines and surface vessels in May. During the exercises the two air forces will carry out maritime and land attack and defense missions.
A PAF spokesman said this would be the first of a series of exercises aimed at enabling French and Pakistan air forces understand new aspects of joint trainings.