Thursday October 21, 2021

A day to remember in naval history of Pakistan

September 08, 2021

The 8th of September is the Pakistan Navy Day in the naval history of India and Pakistan which is celebrated with passion, zeal and enthusiasm to acknowledge the services and sacrifices of war veterans who transformed the battle outlook at sea with their incredible strategies and maneuverings. This day is reminiscent of unrelenting commitment and unparalleled courage of Pakistan’s navy. The day was embedded in chapters of naval warfare history as victory day after Pakistan navy successfully planned, maneuvered and carried military operation in maritime zone of India.

The operation was given a code name ‘SOMNATH’ by Pakistan naval strategists. The code name is considered to be chosen by the strategist commanders of Pakistan navy because of two reasons. First, it was aimed to recall the spirit of Mehmood Ghaznavi attack on temple named ‘SOMNATH’ which was the symbol of Hindu religion and domestic tyranny. Second, the target of the operation was Dwarka port which is located in Gujrat which is also home to same temple. This operation is also called and referred to as ‘Operation Dwarka’ in different academic spheres and archives of India Pakistan naval history.

The operation was efficaciously and successfully conducted and Pakistan navy added another victory in its warfare history. The operation was launched to target the Indian port of Dwarka, located in Gujarat district of India, which was serving as central support to Indian navy and Indian Air Force in the wake of war between India and Pakistan in 1965. The Pakistan Navy’s fleet of seven ships embarked on night of 7/8 September aiming to destroy the port and shore installations to cripple Indian naval control and communication system along with confining the movements of the Indian fleet. Pakistan Navy’s 25th squadron carried out this operation. The Pakistani fleet successfully and swiftly achieved its objectives that include the destruction of important maritime installations such as radar stations and radio beacon which was operating to guide bombardments and attacks of Indian Air Force in Karachi.

The most important strategic objective of this operation was to stop the Indian navy from strategic maneuvering and render it ineffective during the war. Submarine Ghazi of Pakistan navy also played key role to attain war objective. The Ghazi besieged the harbor, confined Indian navy to their waters and prevented Indian Navy Ships and Aircraft carrier to advance their maneuvering and operations that resulted in the defeat of India at sea.

This day could not get mainstream projection because of the widespread sea-blindness in Pakistan and lack of knowledge of importance of navy and roles it played to manage the tide of wars. The primary reason behind this oblivion is that the country was agriculture land and most of the policies was driven and shaped by continental mindset. Therefore, from its very inception, the country’s leadership did not give due focus on the maritime sector rendering it to the bottom of policy goals and causing maritime blindness. Navies of the world are playing significant and central role in defense of their countries. Pakistan navy is also performing its duties to ensure the defense of country at Sea.

Oceans and seas have been remained and still are battlefields for littoral states to extend their war objectives. In south Asia, the Arabia Sea became the battlefield several times during the eruption of war between India and Pakistan. Besides, in the wake of globalisation and communicational revolutions, non-conventional threats are also becoming the chief concerns for naval arms of countries. Specter of non-conventional threats is much wider and intertwined with conventional means such as climate change, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, illegal immigration, smuggling of arms and drugs, piracy and maritime terrorism. It has multiplied the role of maritime institutions in littoral states. Pakistan naval arm is diligently evaluating the changing dynamics of traditional and non-traditional security threats and effectively performing its duty to ensure the defense of whole spectrum of threats. This day should be commemorated and projected in national landscape to showcase the professionalism and bravery of Pakistan navy and enhance the awareness and importance of oceans in Pakistan.

Baber Ali Bhatti

Lawyer and senior research fellow at Maritime Study Forum