Pakistan’s Navy is no longer part of the multi-country counterpiracy Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 that operates in the western Indian Ocean, according to a report by Aljazeera.
CTF 151 was established in January 2009 with a specific piracy mission-based mandate, currently endorsed under UNSCR 2316. This has now been expanded to include conducting wider maritime security operations in support of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
In a statement to Al Jazeera, the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces - the over-arching organisation of which the CTF is a part off - confirmed that Pakistan is no longer participating with ships in the task force. "Currently, Pakistan provides experienced naval personnel, very knowledgeable in areas such as operating in the Indian Ocean," CMF spokesperson Wendy Wheatley said.
"The current constituents of CTF 151 does not include Pakistan, however, a new team of nations take over every 4-6 months," she added. "Participation remains purely voluntary and no nation is asked to carry out any duty that it is unwilling to conduct."
Pakistan reportedly took this decision to leave the task force after the U.S.-led operation refused to pay for fuel for the patrolling warships as part of a previous agreement.
This cutting of ties is another sign of the deterioration between Pakistan and the U.S. in recent months. Earlier this year, the Trump Administration cancelled $300million in security assistance to Pakistan, which did not go down well in Islamabad. In August, the Trump administration stopped funding training for Pakistani military officers.
Pakistan’s pulling out of CTF 151 is to signal to the U.S. that it Islamabad cannot be dismissed and is key player in the region. Pakistan now can carry out an independent Regional Maritime Security Patrol (RMSP) from the Gulf of Aden to the Gulf of Oman, and from the Strait of Hormuz to the Maldivian waters.
However, Pakistan remains a member of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), the coalition confirmed in a statement.