There have been very few world leaders having the foresight to accurately predict what lies in the future and the dynamism to prepare for it. Pakistan’s founding father, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had both. Not only did he won Independence for Pakistan from the manipulative British Empire and the canny Congress, he was acutely aware of the dangers the infant state would have to face. During his stay in Europe, Mr Jinnah had keenly watched the First World War and the failure of the League of Nations to prevent it.
Addressing the officers and ranks of the newly formed Pakistan Navy in Karachi on 23rd January, 1948, at PNS Dilawar, the Quaid forewarned that Pakistan must not count on others to defend it when the need comes.
He said, “Pakistan must be prepared for all eventualities and dangers. The weak and the defenseless, in this imperfect world, invite aggression from others. The best way in which we can serve the cause of peace is by removing temptation from the path of those who think that we are weak, and therefore, they can bully or attack us.”
Given Pakistan’s geostrategic importance and the hostile neighboring environment, Quaid knew that the country needed strong armed forces. Among them, he saw the Pakistan Navy as the instrument to guarding the doors to the world on which depended the infant state’s economy and thus the future. On 23rd January, 1948, as the Quaid stood before a small but determined band of Naval officers of his fledgling nation’s Naval force, despite his frail health, the air reverberated with his famous speech. Below are some excerpts from the speech of the Quaid where he outlined his vision for the Pakistan Navy;
“Pakistan is still in its infancy and so is its Navy and other branches of the armed forces. But this infant means to grow up and God willing will grow up much sooner than many people thinks. You will have to make up for the smallness of your size by your courage and selfless devotion to duty for it is not life that matters but the courage, fortitude and determination you bring to it. People from all over the globe pass through Karachi and the eyes of the world are on you. I trust that, by your behavior and deportment you will never let Pakistan down, but would keep up the best traditions of the service and maintain high the honor and prestige of Pakistan as one of the greatest nations of the world.”
These words have been a source of inspiration for the Pakistan Navy in the trials and tribulations of the years to come and the officers and ranks of the force have been true to the Quaid’s words in all sense. The words of the Quaid, his persona and the vitality of his speech drove home the conviction among the pioneers of the Navy that what they do in the early years will be vital to the survival of the nation. Now, they knew that only a strong Navy would guarantee the security and prosperity of Pakistan in the shadow of the relentless and hostile neighboring enemy.
From an infancy stage, starting with meagre resources and personnel (mere four sloops, four fleet minesweepers, 8 motor minesweepers and harbor defense launches) the Pakistan Navy has indeed come a long way since 1947. The challenge was herculean. But as the Quaid hoped, the small force did not lack courage, determination and the will to succeed and to become a force to reckon with among the best Naval Forces of the World.
In the formative years, every one among the Naval Force worked with untiring effort and never ending zeal to build the Pakistan Navy. The Quaid’s dream of a strong Navy which could guard the most critical and the most important frontiers was the guiding principle for these men and they did not take long to make it a reality. The nation today is rightly proud of its Navy as an impregnable shield of the country’s maritime borders.
Today, the Navy has an even greater responsibility with increase and expansion in its operational scope, countering sea-based global terrorism, smuggling, piracy, providing land and sea-based security to shipping lanes. But staying true to the Quaid’s words, the Navy has stood every test and trial. Sarojini Naidu in 1906 wrote of Mohammad Ali Jinnah: “Pre-eminently rational and practical, discreet and dispassionate in his estimate and acceptance of life, the obvious sanity and serenity of his worldly wisdom effectually disguise a shy and splendid idealism which is of the very essence of the man.” She may have been easily talking about Pakistan Navy.